On Rehtaeh Parsons, Jane Doe, and rape.
On Sunday, Rehtaeh Parsons’ family took her off life support.
Rehtaeh Parsons hanged herself in her bathroom four days before that, because Rehtaeah Parsons was gang-raped by four boys a year ago.
They took pictures.
It took weeks for the police to even talk to them.
The atrocity they committed was dismissed – lack of evidence, they couldn’t prove who’d taken the picture.
The people in Rehtaeh’s school called her a slut. They passed her phone number around. They asked her if she’d have sex with them. They bullied, shunned, and browbeat her to death.
Her mother has a memorial page for her on Facebook and I can’t stop looking at the pictures and pictures of her as a child. Rehtaeh with a little dog. Rehtaeh’s school portrait. Rehtaeh and her family. Rehtaeh and her friends. Selfies she took. Pages and pages and pages of them, and I can’t stop looking, and I can’t shake it.
I didn’t know her. I don’t know her. But I know girls like her. I know boys like the ones that did this to her. We all do.
People were so horrified at Steubenville like it was some isolated incident, like it was on a different level than all the other rapes that happen every day, every hour, every minute. Like Steubenville was the limit of human atrocity, an outlier, something everyone shook their heads at and wondered “How?” and thought “That could never happen to my daughter.” Not me. Not here.
It happens here. It happens wherever you are, right now. It happens every two minutes in the US. One out of five. One out of four. One out of six. One out of three. One billion, worldwide, every year.
Steubenville is not an isolated incident. What happened to Jane Doe and Rehtaeh Parsons is not an isolated incident. It doesn’t happen just to pretty white girls with long hair; it doesn’t just happen to the people we are most comfortable feeling compassion for.
I’m sorry, Rehtaeh. I’m sorry that so many people failed you. I’m sorry that we are all complicit in a culture that shames and silences and browbeats victims literally to death. We created this. We built it.
I want to tear it apart with my teeth.