If women who have been raped or sexually assaulted or molested feel like they're the only ones this has happened to -- or that they can't tell police because they must have somehow been at fault for what was done to them -- this news story should prove that is far from the truth.
A man from Ohio was arrested for raping a 21-year-old woman whom he had met through an online dating service. When questioned by police, Terry Smith, Jr., 25, wasn't the least bit surprised, it seems. Instead, he reportedly told cops he'd "done worse" and "more serious" to at least six other women over the past two years.
Shirley Koval has bravely come forward -- and allowed the media to publish her name -- because she says she wants others to hear her story. After meeting the suspect on the Plenty of Fish dating site and spending time with him and some of her friends, she agreed to go to his apartment to watch a movie. He reportedly raped her at his home. She says she was scared to report the rape at first because she knew better than to go to Smith's home and she figured the attack was partly her fault.
Her 11-year-old sister helped convince her that she was a victim and deserved to seek justice for what had happened to her. Smart kid.
When cops arrived at his apartment to arrest Smith, they say they found him with another woman -- who also reported that she had been sexually attacked by the suspect.
Police say Smith didn't seem shocked that he had been caught and that he admitted he had been doing this for awhile to various women.
A second victim, 21-year-old Brittany Duckery, also came forward and told police she had been raped by Smith after meeting him on the same dating website. She says she had consensual sex with Smith twice, but then broke things off with him. She had left her eyeglasses at his apartment and claims he refused to bring them to her. When she showed up at his door to retrieve them, she claims the suspect raped her.
Duckery called police only after Smith texted her a few days later and told her he was going to shoot himself if she didn't go to his house to see him.
Like Koval, this young woman probably assumed she was raped because of her own actions. It's so sad to think of how many women are out there carrying around the burden of blame for unwanted sexual attacks. Let's hope the other women whom Smith says he raped feel safe enough to come forward so that they can take back some of the power that was stolen from them.
Smith has been charged with two counts of rape and kidnapping. He is being held on $1.5 million bond.
What can be done to encourage more victims of sexual crimes to report them?
Image via Columbus Police Department