Rape Survivors Go Public More Than Ever in Bid to Remove Misplaced Shame & Stigma

But video shows society still has a ways to go before it transforms its view of women and sex crimes.

Social media in today’s expanding technological era is not without its drawbacks. However, one of the advantages of this expanding phenomenon is the platform it provides folks from all walks of life to have their voices heard, particularly those victims of sexual assault who were previously silenced and stigmatized.

Now, thanks to the internet, women have a way of fighting back and are more eager to tell their stories than ever before in a bid to remove the shame surrounding sexual assault and pave the way toward a future that is more accepting of talking about sex crimes, and places the blame where it belongs, as Buzz Feed reports.

In the most recent display of public bravery, three-time rape victim 20-year-old Courtney Andrews, who was raped by her neighbor Austin Clem when she was aged 13, 14 and 18, said she felt it was necessary to talk about her experience after her attacker received no jail time for repeatedly raping her:

"He's still not paying for any of it. When does he have to pay? Because he still hasn't had to. That's the thing. I have to pay for the rest of my life. I've been paying since I was 13 years old,” Andrews told WAFF.

Andrews has been fighting back so hard, it prompted the judge to file an order agreeing to re-sentence Clem.

Others like Daisy Coleman, the teenager at the center of the Maryville rape case, decided to come forward to pressure authorities to re-open her case and publicly the details her assault by a 17-year-old high school football player with powerful political connections.

It seems what was once considered a “lonely crusade” has transitioned into a global movement whereby rape survivors and advocates are changing tactics in the fight against rape culture engrained in our society. As Scott Berkowtiz, president of Rape, Abuse and Incent National Network (RAINN) told Buzzfeed:

“We’ve definitely seen a lot more people willing to use their name in press stories or willing to discuss publicly what happened to them. We’re still a long way from everyone wanting to be public, but there’s definitely a trend.”

What’s more, there has also been an influx of anti-rape campaigns, such as Project Unbreakable, where women who are victims of rape are coming forward holding signs with quotes from their various attackers.  The hard-hitting campaign is aimed at increasing awareness of sexual assault and encourages the act of healing through art.

Yet, the fight is far from over. A video released yesterday by The Representation Project, a movement that uses film and media to expose injustices created in gender stereotypes, provides a snapshot of the reality for for women in the media in 2013.  It appears that amongst all the crusading, some things are not changing fast enough with women still degraded and highly sexualized in various media campaigns.


Nonetheless, it is hoped that as more people continue to come forward like girls such as Andrews, that we can redefine the current rape culture through mainstream and social media and continue to challenge the way the law and society view sex crimes in America today.

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Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.