Nate Parker Pens Post About Rape Accuser's Suicide & Sadly It's Not Enough

nate parker

As a young woman I find it very difficult to ever imagine what it was like being a rape victim in previous decades. Of course, our system is still flawed and there's no denying the level of victim-shaming that oftentimes still occurs when women come forward about sexual assault. But the reality is that in 2016 we have made some improvements in the way we address rape. So with that said, it's very difficult to digest all that news surrounding the 1999 rape allegations against actor Nate Parker. In reading some of the news stories, I feel like my heart and my mind can't even begin to fathom what the victim went through fighting for justice against a system that seemed completely oblivious. 

Advertisement

It further pains me to find out that, in addition to Parker's having been on trial and then later acquitted for rape as a 19-year-old student at Penn State, it was recently revealed that the victim committed suicide in 2012 -- nearly 12 years after the fact. Her brother, who feels Parker only got off on a "technicality," spoke with Variety and had plenty to say about his sister's unfortunately "short life." 

More from CafeMom: Woman Shares Story of Daughter's Sexual Assault as a Warning for All Moms (VIDEO)

Parker took to Facebook after days of scrutiny to directly address the case, which has been propelled back into the public spotlight. He wrote: 

These issues of a women's right to be safe and of men and women engaging in healthy relationships are extremely important to talk about, however difficult. And more personally, as a father, a husband, a brother and man of deep faith, I understand how much confusion and pain this incident has had on so many, most importantly the young woman who was involved.

He went on to add:

I cannot -- nor do I want to ignore the pain she endured during and following our trial. While I maintain my innocence that the encounter was unambiguously consensual, there are things more important than the law. There is morality; no one who calls himself a man of faith should even be in that situation.

In an interview prior to his Facebook post, Parker told Variety:

Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That's that. Seventeen years later, I'm a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is I can't relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.

While we don't know and will never truly know anything more than Parker's side of the story, we do know that his then-roommate (who is the co-writer of his film Birth of a Nation) was sentenced to six months and then exonerated after the victim refused to withstand a retrial. What we do know is that it seems likely that Parker may have sat by and idly watched as his friend sexually assaulted a young woman who claimed to have been unconscious.

However, we also know that we're currently looking to change the way we educate men about what sexual assault is. What we do know is that we're still trying to change the way the justice system views sexual assault. We know that 17 years have passed. We know (deep down) that growth is more than possible -- it is inevitable for human beings.

More from CafeMom: Nonviolent Sexual Assaults: Why Women Need to Take Them Seriously

So with that said, I wholeheartedly believe that Nate Parker has grown wiser and is, seemingly, sympathetic toward the period of time and the damage that was done. Regardless of whether the outcome was a direct result of his action -- or inaction -- his statement is heartfelt and understood. I say that as a human.

But, specifically as a woman, I can't ignore the fact that it's too little too late for sympathy and guilt. A girl is gone and so I can't ignore the fact that, yes, her brother is absolutely right in saying that had this case been tried here and now, the outcome may not be so pleasing for Parker. That a woman may still be here with us if she weren't fighting the "ghosts [that] continued to haunt her," according to her brother. 

While we will never know what it is that caused her to take her own life, we will only have our imaginations, as they run wild trying to paint the picture of the anguish and pain she must've felt after the alleged experience. 

While two men are free to live out the rest of their lives, there was a woman who felt so defeated that she took her own life, leaving behind a child. So, while prettily penned statements and growth help, they definitely don't change the past. 

 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, you can find help and support at RAINN.org, the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1 800 656 HOPE (4673), or Safe Horizon Crime Victims Hotline 1 866 689 HELP (4357).

 

Images via Digital Focus/Splash News

Read More >