If you followed the Steubenville rape trial, you know that the victim "Jane Doe" was shunned in her hometown and received death threats on the Internet from her peers. In other words, her decision to come forward and name Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond as her rapists came at a very high cost. Even the media took a bizarre turn when the convictions were announced, with reporters expressing sympathy for the teen boys. Boys who were not only found guilty of digitally raping Jane Doe while she was passed out, but who also took photos and videos of her and shared them, which led to other students, sickeningly, joking about it too.
But despite the depressing and disgusting behavior of a few, there are many, MANY others who support this girl. And what she’s doing with that support is nothing less than inspiring.
Bob Fitzsimmons, the lawyer who took Jane Doe’s case pro bono, told Piers Morgan the other night that all the money people donated to help pay Jane Doe’s legal bills is going to the Madden House/Sexual Assault Help Center, which is an emergency safe-shelter for battered women with two locations (one is in Steubenville). Fitzsimmons said Jane Doe and her family hope that, aside from the money, all the media attention "... can help other people that have been victimized by this type of crime and give them some strength and some assurance that people are there to help them when that happens."
I am so heartened to hear not just about this powerful gesture, but by the fact that donations have been pouring in. This brave young woman, who had to seek counseling after being ostracized by her so-called friends, needs all the support she can get. I’m absolutely sickened at the thought that she hasn't received purely that from her community and from the world at large.
If she were my daughter, I would have blood lust in my heart, not just for her attackers, but for anyone who mocked or tried to minimize the severity of what those boys did to her. But Jane Doe’s mom sets a much better example than that. Not only did she say she hopes the verdicts are “the start of a new beginning for my daughter,” but she also said, “We hope that from this something good can arise ... We need to stress the importance of helping those in need and to stand up for what is right."
Your mama taught you well, Jane Doe. You stood up for what is right, and something good has already come of your actions, brave girl. Not only did you set an example of speaking out against rape, an example that I hope teens everywhere will learn from, but you’re using your traumatic experience to help other women. You’re an inspiration -- and that, not the actions of two reprehensible young men, is what defines you.
If you were Jane Doe's mom, wouldn't you be proud of her?
Image via juliejordanscott/Flickr