Early on the morning of Jan. 8, 2012, Melinda Coleman found her 14-year-old daughter, Daisy, sprawled across the front porch and scratching at the front door of their Maryville, Mo. home.
Dressed in only a t-shirt and sweatpants, her hair frozen, Daisy had been out in the freezing weather for almost three hours. After gettting examined by doctors and giving interviews to the police, Daisy learned that she'd been sexually assaulted the previous night. The alleged assailant was Matthew Barnett, an acquaintance from school.
Despite the sheriff’s assurance that the evidence obtained, including audio and video confessions, would result in prosecutions, the felony sexual assault and the sexual exploitation counts were dismissed.
Even before the charges were dismissed, Daisy and her family had been receiving numerous threats and malicious comments over social media. Her brother was booed at his wrestling tournament, and some said Daisy “had been asking for it” and that Barnett was blameless.
Since the prosecutors and some members of the police did not back up the victim, the community has been able to twist that into being proof that Daisy deserved what was done to her- turning her into a pariah.
Blaming the victim has never been, and will never be, the correct course of action when someone has been sexually assaulted. It is deplorable that after suffering through a tragic event of this magnitude, the community not only turned its back on Coleman, but also made it seem as though she was in the wrong.
From a very young age, girls are taught to be constantly aware of their surroundings and companions. We are told to avoid being alone at night, make a quick exit from a parking garage and follow numerous other sorts of preventative measures. Instead of instilling fear in women, how about sending a strong message to men that rape is intolerable?
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, one in every six American women has been the victim of a completed or attempted rape in her lifetime.
It's important to note that women can be attackers too. However, the United States Department of Justice reports that 99 percent of rape assailants are male, leading to the conclusion that the weight of reform lies with the male gender.
If a woman is wearing a revealing outfit, that does not justify rape. If a woman has been drinking and is heavily intoxicated, that is not cause to take advantage of her. There is never an excuse for rape, and furthermore, the victim should never be blamed.
It is distressing that not only could a woman’s physical and mental health be shredded because of someone else’s actions, but the woman may also be portrayed as deserving that action.
Perhaps if rapists know that the legal system and the public will condemn all acts of this nature, incidents such as Daisy’s, and countless others', will become less frequent.