The magazine known as “Rolling Stone” has come under fire recently for a story that they published about the rape epidemic on college campuses specifically University of Virginia. According to Rolling Stone the reporter who wrote the story, Sabrina Rubin Erderly, who decided that it was best to respect the victim’s wishes and not ask the alleged rapists about their perspective on the allegations, did not do what a reporter was “supposed to do” and that was to ask the alleged rapists for “their side.” Every woman knows that men who have raped a woman will most certainly deny any allegations and spew anti-woman lies about the victim to boot. The concept of respecting the victim did not seem to be enough for those who want to remain “neutral” with rape allegations because they accused the victim of “lying” and then the witch-hunt for “Jackie” began in full force.
Not only did Rolling Stone throw “Jackie” under the bus to save their own asses but they also sent a reminder to all rape victims that if they do not have allegations that are “believable” that woman not only deserves the scorn but she is also a “whore.” Hanna Rosin from Slate reports that trolls and other anti-woman scum, like Charles C. Johnson, are already on the hunt for her and think they have found the “culprit.” She says
If Johnson has his way, the next few days are likely a significant setback for the cause of encouraging women to report sexual assaults. Johnson tweeted Jackie’s full name on Sunday and wrote that he would give Jackie until midnight “to tell the truth” or else he will “start revealing everything about her past.” (It is unclear if Johnson actually knows anything “about her past” or is making idle, but dangerous, threats.) Others are already a few steps ahead of him, posting pictures from Jackie’s Facebook feed—and even her mother’s Facebook feed—and adding nasty captions.
One thing needs to be made clear in the case of rape victims and the trauma that will often result from rape; just because the victim’s story may be contradictory or it may seem like a falsehood that does not mean she is lying. Trauma has a way of messing with the brain and especially the memory. As this report from US National Library of Medicine shows that people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are diagnosed by the following symptoms or signs:
“PTSD is characterized by specific symptoms, including intrusive thoughts, hyperarousal, flashbacks, nightmares, and sleep disturbances, changes in memory and concentration, and startle responses. Symptoms of PTSD are hypothesized to represent the behavioral manifestation of stress-induced changes in brain structure and function. Stress results in acute and chronic changes in neurochemical systems and specific brain regions, which result in longterm changes in brain “circuits,” involved in the stress response.”
With all of this knowledge about disorders on the internet available for everyone with an internet connection to access, one would think that people would start to think that maybe the trauma of that rape has effected Jackie’s ability to recall the rape that has occurred. It seems easier to believe rape myths and to hate women for not conforming to the “perfect rape victim” mold then to accept that rape happens more and goes unreported. It is due to the relentless attack on women who are brave enough to come forward with rape allegations that they crawl back into the darkness they came out of, never to discuss their trauma or even call out the man who raped them ever again. No one would ever doubt the story of a person who was robbed with their windows smashed and their door busted in; so why is it even if a rape victim has all the evidence of the crime committed against her that no one will believe her or that she “asked for it”? Even if she sometimes retracts some details of the rape or even adds a detail that doesn’t mean that a rape did not happen to her. As mentioned before trauma can really affect your brain process and might even affect memories of that traumatic event. Why does no one take that into account when people are discussing rape? Why must anyone be “neutral” when rape happens on a daily business to women and is committed by men? The whole “false rape allegations” have been debunked numerous times in the past and so I will not waste my time in arguing against that point; there is plenty of information available concerning that ridiculous trope.
No woman should be forced to deal with the scrutiny that rape victims are forced to deal with if they ever decide to come forward with allegations of rape. We have seen too many stories of men, who are so obviously guilty, get away with rape and abuse; the victims are left to pick up the pieces that the rapist left behind and try to go on with life, knowing that the rape and abuse they have endured will remain burned into their minds. Even if the reporter did not ask the alleged rapists for comment they still had a responsibility to the victim to respect her wishes and that her humanity (and privacy) deserves to be respected.