In early 2011, an 11 year old girl was gang raped by 20 young men in Cleveland, Texas. Immediately, The New York Times posted an article diminishing the survivor’s trauma, putting the focus on how the case shook up the town. On top of that, they also spoke of the girl’s appearance and what she must have been doing for this to happen.
how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?
she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground.
Seriously? We even have to worry about victim blaming in the case of an 11 year old girl getting gang raped by men as old as 27?? How do people feel okay doing this?
To make matters worse, (I know, you can stop reading if you’d like) this past week, the defense attorney, Steve Taylor, assumed the entire reason the rape happened was because of the girl. The Houston Chronicle reports of Taylor’s victim blaming:
Former Cleveland Police Department Sgt. Chad Langdon, who was the lead investigator on the case, also testified that an 11-year-old – due to her emotional immaturity – legally cannot give consent for a sexual encounter.
Taylor questioned why the underage girl had not been charged with anything for choosing to violate that rule, indicating that she was “the reason” that the encounters happened.
“Like the spider and the fly. Wasn’t she saying, ‘Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly?’ ” Taylor asked.
Luckily the Sargent went on to question Taylor’s remarks.
People wonder why more survivors don’t come forward with their assaults and experiences. From what we’ve seen, they can only assume that not only will they not be believed, but they’ll be blamed.
We need to speak up and let survivors know that we believe them. Don’t let the New York Times or people like Taylor drown out our voices. Let’s override their cynical, victim blaming remarks with support.