This is for Every Sexual Assault Victim and All the Other Jane Does:
My name is Alisa, but I used to be known as Jane Doe: the victim of the Haidl gang-rape case. Today I am a survivor; a survivor of sexual assault. Ten years ago, when I was only sixteen years old, I became the victim of one of California’s most famous and high profile gang rape cases.
I was unconscious during the entire sexual assault and only discovered what happened to me because the perpetrators videotaped the crime. A courageous citizen found the videotape and turned it over to police. If it was not for that citizen doing the right thing, I may never have truly known what happened to me and I may never have received justice.
After almost four years of severe intimidation and harassment from the defense and some members of the community, and two trials later, the perpetrators were finally found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to six years in prison.
Throughout the two trials I endured, my entire name, image and existence was slandered by the defense. I was ostracized by the community. I was treated as if I was the one on trial for rape. I was degraded, belittled, called every filthy name imaginable, harassed and out casted by everyone, except my family. I was blamed for ruining the lives of four people, when I was the one unconscious and sexually assaulted and abused. People seemed to so easily forget that I was the victim!
The hurtful lies people made up and the way I was shunned by almost everyone, was just as painful and damaging to me as the actual rape. Both the rape and reaction towards me by many members of the community have left scars that will last forever. I work hard every day at healing these wounds by learning to forgive.
Society and the community need to realize this. People need to understand the effects of rape on its victims. People need to remember that rape is a crime! The victim’s past history and her clothing do not matter! These are inconsequential. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes anyone deserve to be raped. And once someone is unconscious and not able to say yes or no – THAT AUTOMATICALLY MEANS NO!!! And if someone does have sex with an unconscious person, that is called Rape, and that person deserves to be punished accordingly.
The upcoming Steubenville, Ohio rape trial has many similarities to my case. Like my case, the Steubenville case has people with powerful connections in their community who are allegedly involved. This has made it easier for members of the community to blame the alleged victim and side with the people of authority, without having all the facts.
My heart truly goes out to the Steubenville Jane Doe. I found some of the responses that people have had toward her as sad and pathetic. Especially the people of authority that are letting their power and “love for football” make their decision to blame the alleged victim, instead of doing what is morally right. Watching some of the videos the alleged perpetrator’s classmates made caused me to become physically nauseous and infuriated. I am not sure when society determined it is funny, all right, and excusable to have sex with an unconscious girl. But if this kind of mentality does not change, the “blaming of the victim” will never change either.
Maybe it is society’s lack of education and knowledge about rape. Maybe people need to understand that rape has nothing to do with sex; it is a crime about having control and power over their victims. Whatever the reason may be, society has to stop 'raping the victim' too; with its continual blame and cruelty toward rape victims. If a rape victim has any chance of becoming a survivor, we as a community, have to come together and give them our unconditional support, not blame them.
I feel very lucky and honored to be writing this. I am grateful to be writing this as a survivor who took back control and my life from my perpetrators. I am blessed to have found God. It is through God that I have been able to turn the most negative experience of my life into a positive opportunity and career; helping and giving tools to other sexual assault victims so they too can become survivors. I hope after reading this people will stop and think a little differently the next time the topic of rape is brought up.
But more than anything, I want to use this as a chance to write a few words of encouragement to all victims of sexual assault:
Please know you are not alone. Do not listen to the horrible lies some people are saying. You know those lies are not true and many others know that too. What happened to you was not your fault. You did not ask for it and absolutely nothing you did made you deserve it. Many people agree with me and many people believe you. There are many people that support you and stand behind you. I know you did nothing wrong. I know how painful this is for you right now, but you will heal. You will survive this. You are standing up for all victims by prosecuting your perpetrators. Do you realize how incredibly strong and brave you are? I am so proud of you and will always support you. Keep fighting. Keep going. Do not give up. You will win and you will get the justice you deserve. Your strength and courageousness inspire me. You will become a survivor of this. Keep your head up and remember all of us that support you and are behind you always.
The Voice of a Survivor,