If you’ve followed the Steubenville trial in recent weeks, you may have found some of the media responses disconcerting. Instead of providing support for sexual survivors, popular media outlets like CNN lamented that the conviction will impact the once-bright futures of the rapists. In these comments, CNN did not detail how Jane Doe was harassed online and slut-shamed by her community (and America at large) for reporting the crime and pressing charges. CNN did not lament how rape culture creates an environment that renders survivors of sexual assault afraid to talk about their experiences and ashamed of something that isn’t their fault. One in five women in the United States is sexually assaulted and 60% of these attacks go unreported to the police. It seems like there’s something wrong with the common discourse of sexual assault.
The unceasingly inspirational Lena Solow ’12 wants to provide messages of hope and positivity for survivors that were so lacking from many Steubenville responses. This blog is not just for Jane Doe—it’s for any survivor who seeks affirmation and encouragement. Solow writes, “This is a place to consolidate messages of hope and encouragement and affirmation for sexual assault survivors. Created in response to the backlash, victim blaming, and all-around horrifying language about the Steubenville rape case. If Jane Doe, the Steubenville survivor, searches for messages, there should be something else available for her, and for all survivors of assault.”
Here is a link to the blog, “Messages for Survivors.” You should definitely check it out and even contribute if you feel so inclined. In a longer blurb, Solow writes that she created the blog because
I hate how after something horrible like the Steubenville rape, there are always these roundups of disgusting things that people have tweeted/posted to Facebook/blogged/etc. Those voices become the loudest, and even if the roundups are attempting to point out how awful the stuff is that these people are saying, it’s still focusing on those people and those voices. I was so sickened today reading people’s reactions to Steubenville, and I was even more sickened when I thought about the survivor looking online and seeing over and over again blaming and shaming and misogyny and violence.
So I did what anyone in our generation does when they see a problem – I made a Tumblr! I’m hoping that Messages for Survivors can serve as a repository of affirming messages for survivors of all kinds of sexual assault. I’ve just posted one thing, and I’d love for you to submit your own messages. It could be words, pictures, or videos. It could be poems, cartoons, stories, or resources. It could be one word or a thousand words. You could submit it online or send it to me or comment here with something you’d like to post. What would YOU want a survivor to be able to find online? If you’re a survivor, what messages would YOU want to read or watch or hear?
Open to any and all suggestions!
(Note – there are lots of people doing amazing, affirming work on these issues already! This Tumblr felt like a slightly new way to pull together messages, but I am in no way overlooking the hard work of others who are already putting these messages out there).