this girl was sexually assaulted (and may be imprisoned for tweeting about it)
Pictured is Savannah Dietrich, a 17 year old from Kentucky in the United States. Like many teenagers are likely to do, she went to a party and drank. She passed out. Two of her peers then proceeded to sexually assault her.
Months after the assault, Dietrich learnt the pair had been circulating photos of the event online. She pressed charges, and the pair plead guilty and received a plea agreement – an arrangement Dietrich was not aware of until it was announced in court. She was told she was legally unable to publically announce the names of her attackers.
Angry at what she felt was an unfair and unjust punishment, Dietrich took to Twitter and named the two boys. She followed it with a disclaimer: ‘There you go, lock me up. I’m not protecting anyone who made my life a living Hell’.
I’m still flabbergasted at why she was told not to name her attackers, and have been mentally applauding Dietrich all day for her bravery.
Here are some statistics* for you :
One out of six American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape
Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted
54% of sexual assaults are not reported
97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail
Chances are, if you’re a woman over the age of 25 and haven’t been sexually assaulted, you know someone close to you who has. Chances are if you haven’t been the one crying all night, you’ve been the one holding the girl who has. Chances are, you know it’s never over.
I know here at Lip I’m preaching to the choir – but we still live in a world where we teach don’t get raped rather than don’t rape. There’s a reason why 54% of sexual assaults aren’t reported and I’m going to hedge a bet in reality that the actual figure is far larger. Victims of sexual assault are still made to feel like it’s their fault and that they could have done something to prevent it. Many victims are already so traumatised that the thought of what they will go through if they press charges is far too overwhelming.
Dietrich was incredibly brave for coming forward to the police. And then, the power she was trying to reclaim was taken away from her. So she took it back. And she should have every right to do so. She shouldn’t have to protect her attackers. If she wants to take a Times Square Billboard and write her attackers names in neon pink lights, she should be allowed to, and she should be able to invoice them for the cost.
I’m sure because of the society we live in, someone will say along the lines of the following: ‘Oh, they were drunk teenage boys, they weren’t thinking clearly. Things got out of control. Their lives shouldn’t be ruined by this one mistake’. That boys-will-be-boys defense is ridiculously insulting. They were old enough to understand what they were doing was wrong, and if they didn’t, it displays a psychotic lack of empathy that has nothing to do with age. Furthermore, they sent around photos of the incident. That doesn’t really align well with a ‘caught in the moment and regretted it immediately after’ defense.
Dietrich was violated when the boys assaulted her, and she was violated again when they showed the photographs to her peers, and she’ll carry that experience with her for the rest of her life, along with the knowledge that the images could resurface at any time throughout her life.
Shouldn’t her attackers also carry the experience with them throughout theirs? If a prospective college, employer or girlfriend does a quick Google search on them, shouldn’t they be accountable to explain their actions? They were once proud enough to show the images of what they did to Dietrich to their peers, so why is she being silenced for their protection?
In a society where policemen tell girls they shouldn’t dress like a slut if they don’t want to be raped, Dietrich should be applauded. Hell, she should be thrown a parade. But since a parade might be tricky to arrange, what we can do for her is to sign one of the change.org petitions that have been created in her defense. And to let her know – just in case she’s googling the coverage – that we think she’s the epitome of strength and pretty much a rock star.
*As this case is based in the USA, so too are the figures, taken from the RAINN network.
EDIT: Contempt charges against Dietrich have since been withdrawn