When Sexual Violence Goes Viral There Are Many Perpetrators

16-Year-Olds Rape Goes Viral On Social Media: No Human Being Deserved This | ThinkProgress

This is Jada, a young woman who was drugged and raped at a party thrown by fellow high schoolers. She wasn’t aware of her rape until she saw pictures of her unconscious body circulating on social media. Once Jada realized what happened she decided to release her identity and publicly speak out about the incident in hopes that the perpetrators are caught and punished.

I believe that there isn’t just one perpetrator in this case but there are as many as have sent her image around. Indeed the first perpetrator is the man or men who sexually assaulted her but the second perpetrator(s) are the people who shared her image or likeness, they share in the crime of sexual assault/violation as well. This ought to be a new way of thinking given the proliferation of viral images and videos of women being sexually assaulted, people being physically assaulted, and all manner of intimate and personal violence that has become just another source of entertainment. Therefore, my hope is not just that the young man or men who assaulted her are caught but that every person who forwarded pictures of her vulnerable body are caught and have to deal with the consequences of their indirect involvement in a sexual assault.

In the age of mindless sharing of viral videos we need to be more mindful and we need to be in the business of exacting some measure of consequence for sharing things that directly harm and put the lives of others in danger. If this all seems too ideal then we need to ask ourselves one simple question before sharing images or videos of a sensitive nature–I am specifically speaking about situation such as this, the Steubenville rape case and videos such as those shown on sites such as WorldstarHipHop, “Will this do harm or good to the involved parties?” This question is of particular importance when the involved parties are minors. We must be concerned about how we protect our young and, arguably, most vulnerable population.

I commend Jada for her bravery in publicly speaking up and hope that some measure of justice will be served. I also hope that her actions will encourage many others like her to speak up and out against perpetrators. Lastly, Jada’s actions have actually turned the hashtag meant to shame her into redemption. The real #jadapose represents the courage and strength of a young woman who will, undoubtedly, encourage many to be victors instead of just victims in the fight against sexual assault and violence and for that #istandwithjada


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