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What Happened in Steubenville is Happening Here

The pictures of the rape of a young girl in Steubenville, Ohio are tragic. A young, unconscious girl dragged around a “party” and then raped by her classmates. Meanwhile, girls at the party laughed and took pictures of the victim which they posted to social media with tags like “so raped”. No one intervened to help the victim or called the police. We cannot mislead ourselves, what happened in Steubenville is happening in the Tri-Valley and in every city, suburb, and small town. Usually these rapes are never reported and they never receive the kind of national media attention that the Steubenville case did.

The United States Center for Disease Control tells us that 1 in 4 women in her lifetime will be a victim of sexual assault, 1 in 4! Another fact, 1 in 9 men will be a victim of sexual abuse in his lifetime! Rape and sexual assault are extremely underreported crimes. Males are even less likely to report than females. There are many reasons why victims do not report. After this Steubenville rape case was prosecuted, many in the media focused on the perpetrators, popular football players in the small town, and how this case may affect them. The victim didn’t receive much support at all after enduring this invasive, traumatizing and dehumanizing crime.

What can be done to decrease teenage sexual assaults?

Education. Bystander Education, also called Upstander Education, is now being taught with success by many rape crisis centers including Tri-Valley Haven. Upstander Education teaches teens, and adults, to stand up safely if they witness sexual assault or violence (for example, call 911 anonymously). We need to teach all of our young people in middle and high school about sexual violence, consent, and expose the truth about sexual assault. For instance, the most at risk age group for sexual assaults are teenagers, specifically 16 – 19 year olds. Most rapes occur by someone the person knows, not by a stranger. No-one deserves to be raped. Women often even put the fault on the victim because it makes them feel safer. We all want to believe the world is fundamentally safe. People blame victims by saying things like, “it was her fault because she should have been more careful” or “she shouldn’t have been drinking” or “she shouldn’t have worn that”. They reason that they won’t do those specific things in that specific way, so they won’t be raped. Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault. If teenagers understood this, they may show more empathy and stand together against sexual violence. If a girl wears a short skirt, she is not asking to be raped. If a teenager drinks beer she does not deserve to be raped.

We also need to hold perpetrators criminally accountable. We need to send a strong message that sexual assault will not be tolerated in our society. Rape is about power and control, not uncontrollable sexual desires. Perpetrators think they have the “right” to take someone’s most intimate choice about their body away from them. Our culture needs to make it clear; No one has the right to sexual assault and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent.

Tri-Valley Haven offers rape prevention education, including Upstander Education, and healthy relationship classes for free to Tri-Valley middle and high school classes. We currently have funding for only one person to do this work part-time. Sexual assault prevention needs to be a top local and national funding priority. We owe it to our kids, and to their kids.

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6 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Images Will Disturb and commented:
    What happens in Steubenville happens everywhere. I’ve seen this happen in various communities in Australia as well.

    Reply
  2. its happening here and everywhere and it is deadly. *trigger warning* the following link covers the story of a victim fo a similar attack. http://feministing.com/2013/04/10/rehteah-parsons-is-dead/

    Reply
  3. Fay

     /  April 11, 2013

    It’s a complete shame that people focus on the prepetrators and not stay focus on the crime. Young people don’t always take things serious. just like in the case of Steubenville, I believe all they bystanders need to be procescuted, this would be a lesson you for everyone who chooses not to get involved or make light of it.

    Reply
  4. also (trigger warning: sexual abuse, online bullying and suicide): http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/teens-charged-assault-girl-killed-18936576#.UWgsnLUp_0c

    Reply
  5. Youwill Neverknow

     /  April 12, 2013

    http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,2235392674001_2138906,00.html
    Boo freaking who for the perpetrators. The time for vigilantly justice has long passed. These crying kids should be taken to the woods, have their penis’s nailed to a tree, given a knife, and told give up your life or your brain.

    Reply
    • While Tri-Valley Haven does not condone violence aginst anyone, we do understand your anger and outrage at the rape of a young 16 year old girl. We need to ensure that our LEGAL system is holding perpetrators accountable in this, and every other rape and/ or sexual assault case and we need to support survivors, always.

      Reply

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