I’ve been trying for three days to write this post but I had to keep stopping because of my overwhelming feelings of anger, disgust, sadness and disappointment.
A tragedy happened here in Canada, a very avoidable tragedy. Not the first tragedy nor the last but a sad story that’s getting everyone’s attention. A young girl, 15 years old out with friends, people she should’ve been able to trust, has a bit too much alcohol and the boys that were with her decided that her inebriated state was an invitation to take what they wanted and they raped her. A horrible story but sadly it doesn’t end there, these boys then decide to take pictures of the horrible thing they were doing and post them on social media for everyone to see. Instead of the other kids being shocked and outraged that a classmate and friend assaulted in such a terrible way they taunted, mocked and bullied her relentlessly. The authorities, the very people whose role in society is to bring justice in situations like this turned a blind eye, saying there wasn’t enough evidence, when clearly there was photographic evidence that is easily traceable back to the phone it originated from. The school refused to help this poor young girl as the other students tortured her to the breaking point when she finally left school, moved and then admitted herself to the hospital for treatment for the psychological fallout of this horrific crime. A year and a half later, after desperately trying to move on and go forward with her life in spite of all that had happened to her something triggered this poor young girl to make the decision that her life would never be good again. She felt that she just didn’t have any other options but to take her own life, devastating everyone who loved her.
Is this a unique story? No, unfortunately it’s becoming more and more common. We’ve all heard about the horrific story in Steubenville, Ohio and unfortunately every day somewhere in the news you can hear for read a story just like this one. Before technology advanced to the point where we’re all connected instantly the victims of crimes like this had at least some chance of healing and moving beyond being the victim. Now, there’s just no running from it. There’s no forgetting about it. The viciousness that is the undercurrent of our current society, the mindset of blaming the victim and finding pleasure in destroying them completely makes it impossible for anyone to be able to heal after suffering this kind of assault. How could you possibly be expected to move beyond that terrible moment and to rebuild yourself mentally and physically when you’re constantly being attacked, constantly being reminded of what happened to you and even worse you’re being told that it was your fault.
What really sickens me is all these people that seem to think that just because a girl or woman is intoxicated that it is her fault if the men in her company decide to physically violate her. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, we should all be able to expect basic human decency and that when someone is in a vulnerable state his or fellow man will care for him or her and not take advantage and do harm. I have two teenage sons and I can tell you right now if I ever discovered that one of them participated in a gang rape or the videotaping of this act I would march them down to the police station myself and demand they be arrested. If you are a parent and you wouldn’t do this very same thing and you are letting your child down. You’re not teaching them right from wrong or that there are consequences for their actions. I believe that my boys would step in and help the victim in a situation like that even if it meant taking flak from their peers they would do what is right. I have to believe that, I have believe that I raised them right but if I ever found out that I was wrong I would make sure that justice was served and that they learned in that moment that their actions were wrong. Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister, a man I am not normally very fond of, said it very clearly,
“I think we’ve got to stop just using just the term bullying to describe some of these things. Bullying to me has a connotation of kind of kids misbehaving. What we are dealing with in some of these circumstances is simply criminal activity,”
My heart breaks for Rehtaeh Parsons and the family members left behind in the wake of this tragedy.
This young girl was let down not by one person, not by four but by an entire community. She was let down by those boys who should have shown her common human decency,. She was let down by the justice system. She was let down by the education system. She was let down by the parents of the boys that raped her and by the parents of the children who tormented her after-the-fact. She was let down by her peers, the people that she called friends. She was let down by humanity.
She wasn’t a tree in the forest, they all heard her falling they just chose not to help.