Mar 192013
 

When the media and the folks online turn their attention to a tragedy I often find myself getting overwhelmed. I would like to comment on the recent rape trial that is now in the media, but without adding to that sense of over saturation and despair. So, I decided to write the article that my heart really needs to read. I look forward to a day when articles like this are factual instead of satire.

Sweeping Social Change In Wake Of Stuebenville Rape Trial

STUEBENVILLE, Ohio (DrRuthieMedia) – News of a guilty verdict in the trial of two high schoolers accused of raping a fellow student has triggered an intense response, signaling a dramatic shift in how sexual assault is viewed in North America.

The judge announced his decision to a silent crowd gathered in the courtroom this past week, yet the emotional response was unquestionable. “Not only did these young men ruin their own lives, but they caused inexcusable harm to a fellow student as well. On a greater level, I believe we all feel a shared sense of responsibility for failing to prevent this tragedy,” shared Dr. Edmond Dnomde, parent of a student that attended the party at which the assault occurred. “There have been many conversations in my household about why our son didn’t act to stop the assault, and why our younger daughter felt it was acceptable to contribute to distributing it online. We all should have had these sorts of conversations earlier, so it could have made a difference in preventing this horrible event,” Dnomde added before leaving to volunteer at a fundraiser the PTA was facilitating for the local sexual assault crisis response hotline.

Community responses have been swift and powerful. Bishop Frank stood on the steps of a local parish, speaking to an unplanned gathering of parishioners that came to the church to work together to take action. “I just don’t get how somebody decides that their own pleasure and manliness is more important than another person’s basic safety and well-being. I don’t understand how others can fail to straighten them out at the first hint of such a plan. We should have moved past this long ago. I know this is far too late, but we’re going to help make sure we get it right,” said Frank, shortly before the crowd began to mobilize into action groups centered on educating youth, modeling gender equality in the home, and creating masculine communities of accountability. “This isn’t just about today,” said Renee Eener, a parishioner and facilitator of the group on equality in the home. “This is a multi-year commitment. We’re in this until all of our children are safe and looking out for each other, instead of preying on each other. And hopefully they will be able to pass the message to their own children, as well.”

Meanwhile, classmates of the victim and assailants had already begun to organize at Stuebenville High School, with solidarity groups around the world being organized on site by social media. “Our first goal is to get her name off the internet, as well as any remaining images and videos of the attack. It’s just another form of perping on her,” declared Maria Airam. “We have a few folks with special skills that are working on that now.” In the gym, teachers were gathered to receive additional special training. “We need to be able to provide safe spaces for all students. I need to know what to do when I hear rape humor or slut shaming in the hallways, so I can help our students grow into strong adults that know better than to say or think such things,” said Sandra Ardnas, who teaches advanced physics to honors students.

“I know most rapes go unreported, so I am expecting to hear from students who had not previously told anyone. It will be difficult, but I am doing everything I can to be ready to be a good ally and a safe person to talk to,” added English Literature teacher Ralph Hplar.

Across town, local police, mental health professionals, and community college students offered services to elementary and middle school students. Officer Reciffo of the Stuebenville Police Department said, “Kids are exposed to news like this before they are old enough to understand. It’s frightening enough for adults to recognize how a community has failed, and how young men in our midst could do such a thing. But these children do not even have words for their feelings. We want them to know that they’re safe, we believe and value them, and that they have the right to expect others to respect them physically, verbally, and emotionally.”

While the initial response to the trial was focused in large part around the futures of the perpetrators, the public quickly demanded better of the mainstream press. This morning mainstream media outlets offered a series of apologies and corrections for their coverage. “We regret the inappropriate focus of our earlier coverage,” said one outlet. “To ensure that this does not happen again, we have hired a team of diverse consultants as active members with a strong voice in our newsroom.” Other outlets have launched fundraisers for existing social justice efforts in an attempt to balance the harm caused.

But for the families involved, the atmosphere is much quieter. Reporters have largely stayed away from their homes and businesses out of respect for their privacy. A few visitors with casseroles and a steady stream of helping professionals has been noted by witnesses in the area. “We are surrounding her with love, respect, and hope in appropriate amounts. We will not turn our back on her, nor will we forget that this terrible experience does not define or limit who is and who she will someday be,” said one neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. When asked for further information, neighbors simply asked reporters to encourage the public to consider donating to a scholarship for the victim to be used on the educational endeavors of her choice when she turns 21.

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