If anyone should have been safe, it's Jenn Gibbons. The founder of Recovery on Water was out in a boat trying to set a record by rowing the entire 1,500-mile perimeter of Lake Michigan and raise money for her breast cancer charity. Her Row4ROW blog had garnered tons of support and raised thousands of dollars for the effort.
But Gibbons was attacked and sexually assaulted on Sunday morning in the midst of her fundraising adventure. And in one of those "so much is wrong with the world" twists, cops now think that the man they're searching for may have tracked her whole journey through the very blog she used to try to drum up support for her charitable efforts.
This is a scary one for anyone who uses social media. Heck, it's a scary one for any woman period.
Here Gibbons was a woman trying to do something good for mankind, and some cruel and twisted soul saw her only as meat, as a body that he could use as he pleased. The assailant was like any rapist in that sense, but unlike rapists of "opportunity" who see a woman on the street, or a known rapist (who the stats show are more likely to hurt you), this man took it much further. It sounds like he found a woman online and decided to stalk her. He used what Jenn Gibbons was doing for good for his evil purposes.
If the cops are right, that means he actually read Jenn Gibbons' blog. He saw her as a person, a real flesh and blood human being, and he chose to ignore that.
Jenn Gibbons' horrible ordeal is a chilling reminder that we take a huge risk when we trust people with private information. We live in a digital society where we are lucky enough to have the Internet to help us when we need it. We have seen incredible kindnesses come from stories shared over the web. It has made the concept of a global community seem like it may actually be in our grasp.
And yet, the law of statistics tells us that if a small group has one or two bad apples, a larger group will have double that, and so on and so forth. The very community we have to depend on to get things done -- especially to fundraise for something like a breast cancer charity -- becomes as much a bane as a boon because of its size.
The good news is this guy obviously underestimated the woman he was dealing with. Gibbons has decided to continue the fundraising trip, although she's modifying it to ensure her safety.
Here's wishing her the best, and hoping her resolve stands out to anyone who thinks this is a good way to shut a woman down. Check out more about Row4ROW:
What would you do in Jenn Gibbons' shoes? Would you get back out there?
Image via RecoveryOnWater/YouTube