Unfortunately, we live in a culture where victims of sexual assault are silenced, shamed, and more recently, openly mocked on social media. This has recently reared its ugly head in the case of 16-year-old Jada who was sexually assaulted at a party while unconscious, then found out some time later that pictures and videos of the assault had been rapidly distributed all over Twitter. Post-attack, a photo of her went viral, leading to Jada being a victim of horrendous internet bullying by scores of anonymous teenagers. Taking it further, others began to recreate the pose in the original post-attack photo, calling it the #JadaPose and making the horrific ordeal she went through seem like an overblown instance rather than the very serious rape that she was subjected to.
Jada has since decided that she is going to stand up for herself against those bullies and her attackers, and has come out full force telling her side of the story and advocating for her attackers to be put in jail, where they belong. Typically, rape victims are discouraged from going public for a number of reasons: to protect themselves, to keep their attackers safe from being exposed, and to keep them from being incorrectly labeled as “sluts” who were asking for it. On one hand, the internet has become a cesspool of all of the reasons a rape victim should remain silent. Young victims especially have been ridiculed on social media for coming forward, which is something seen most recently in the Stubenville Rape Case in 2012 where the victim was essentially targeted by her entire high school for reporting rape committed by star athletes. However, on the other hand, the internet has the potential for rape victims to reclaim their names and tell their side of the story, and in the case of Jada, begin a movement of support for her and other rape victims going through a similar ordeal.
Jada is a 16-year-old I admire. She is choosing to not be a voiceless victim, and her courage to stand up for herself will undoubtedly inspire others to do the same.
Check out Ronan Farrow’s interview with Jada here.
I stand with Jada.