Sunday, November 14, 2010

Break Character

I figured I'd take a short break from my already-distracted and broken-up study sessions to discuss something that breaks my heart. Coherent or not, correct or not, this needs to be said.

The following three articles summarize a current case in New Boston:

Read if you wish, but I will summarize, from the general knowledge of the case that I have. A young teenage girl at Huron High School ultimately took her life after reporting that she had been raped by another student, and later was tormented at school for coming forward. The assailant, evidently not believing that he had done anything wrong, was not found responsible because the complainant is now dead. Furthermore, the Facebook page created to honor her life has been bombarded with pornographic and appallingly disgusting and disturbing images. According to Fox News, the fact that the case was dropped is apparently something that "few can understand". Why? I suppose that few people have the opportunity to work closely with sexual assault cases and not all people have had the seams of their lives torn by such events, which is something that I am glad of, but really? It's much more prevalent than people are willing to say.

Personally? I'm heartbroken whenever justice isn't served, but this means that I'm heartbroken a lot. There comes a point when sometimes we have to look at something just as awful and gut-wrenching as this case and say "yeah, that's normal" instead of really feeling the broken heart that should follow.

But what does this solve? Next to nothing. The fact of the matter is that a mailbox, a bathroom stall, a glass store-front are all more protected by law than the human body. Doesn't that make you feel objectified? It does, doesn't it? I have worked closely with cases during which the survivor pushes for new legislation, new laws, a new societal perspective...but often times prosecutors won't even pick up the case in the first place. And then? We get angry. We start speaking out, and when we do, perhaps the same people that were so baffled by the dismissal of this current case are the ones trying to silence us. Because it's unruly to protest. It's a public unrest. It's not proper for the words "STOP RAPE" to be scribbled on a poster board or a sidewalk when, my goodness, there are children that might see! Honestly? I'd love to preserve innocence, but that's impossible. At this point, I'd rather have the children know. I'd rather have your child sense that there is something wrong about Gramps reaching down into his or her intimate crevices while you're upstairs getting dinner ready. Maybe if they understood, it wouldn't take you years to catch on. Maybe they would speak up. Maybe.

For a public that is so distraught, it is sure a public that can turn an opinion quickly. What if she had been just a couple of years older? What if she had taken six shots of vodka just prior? What if she were a lesbian, an atheist, a Christian, a Muslim, Mexican, African, German for crying out loud? Would it matter to the public? Often times, juries and judges try to squeeze meaning out of the most irrelevant facts instead of staring reality straight in the face, because reality is not a pretty face to look at. Reality stares back without blinking. It breathes a heavy mist that is dripping with responsibility and a notion of the ability to do the right thing, and that scares people. It scares me, sometimes.

I honestly don't have a solution. I don't have what it takes to change every mind, and I'm not much of a protester like some of my colleagues are. However, I do have an understanding, a familiarity with the system that surprised the public of New Boston. I continue to do my work quietly, on the other end of the telephone, when you call me because you need someone; perhaps occasionally in the hospital, when you're in shock and frightened and unsure. I'll do the work, and love you. Because I get it.


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