March 19th, 2013

concerned, curious, empathetic, Bioware, encouraging
  • cmzero

A message to Jane Doe of Steubenville.

From the incredible samurai_ko, something for the "profound" column:

Dear "Jane,"

You're not alone.

Not by a long shot.

You see, albeit with a few differences, I have been where you are right now, in that I am also a rape survivor. And I was sixteen years old when it happened. Since I can't go back in time and tell any of this to my younger self, I *can* at least tell you. And maybe I can help you avoid many of the mistakes I made as a result of what had happened.

Right now, not only must you deal with the harsh reality of what has happened to you, you are also dealing with the brutal public scrutiny of a nation and a world. That, I cannot even begin to imagine; to be honest, I'm not sure I even want to. I've read both the public outpouring of support, and the public flood of vitriolic, hateful bile that has come your way. (I can only pray that you are embracing the former, and ignoring the latter.) But if you are anything like I was, you are wondering, almost obsessively, if it really was your fault.

The answer is no.

To clarify that, as to whether or not you should have been drinking, that... okay, yes, not the best decision you could have made. But what happened as a result... no. What other people do is not your fault. They had no more right to drag you around, film you, subject you to the physical and emotional abuse you underwent, any more than they had a right to pick up a loaded gun and blow your head off, just because you were drunk. Had they been even remotely decent human beings, they would have found one of your friends and said, "She's had too much. Take her home." Instead, they indulged in petty, brutal, mindless self-indulgence. And that is not your fault, either.

You are also probably wondering if this has 'devalued' you in some way - that you are no longer worth anyone's love, affection, trust, or respect.

The answer is no.

This has not cheapened you, it does not make you any less deserving of the fundamental dignity, compassion, and self-worth that is every human being's right. It does not make you a slut, it does not make you worthless, it does not do anything save make you aware that, well, some people are just assholes.

And most of all, you're wondering, "What happens now?"

The answer is, "You survive."


Just go read the whole thing. Especially if you happen to be Jane Doe of Steubenville. (Or Jane Doe of Saratoga. Or Jane Doe of Arlington. Or Jane Doe of Gaithersburg. Or Jane Doe of...)

[ETA: Sorry for the comment screening; I don't know how that got turned on.]