Steubenville Horror – Who’s fault is it anyway?

As I’ve been studying the Steubenville Horror, and witnessed the lack of sympathy for the sixteen year old girl whose life was forever changed by the unwelcome invasion of her body by her two rapists, while the two perpetrators have received undue sympathy from their community and even from journalists, my heart has been heavy. In this series of posts, I have been tackling the following seven questions that have been very troubling to me.

  • What made the boys, who committed this crime against the victim, think that it was their right to treat another human being with such degradation and disrespect?
  • What would make teenaged boys, who witnessed the cruelty and shame forced upon this girl, think that it was entertaining and funny — so much so, that they took videos and pictures of her and posted them online?
  • Why would teenaged girls, who obviously feared for the victim’s safety, advising her not to go with her abusers, do nothing else to protect her — by calling the police or at the very least, a trusted adult to step in?
  • Where were the parents of all of those teenagers involved in the parties that night?
  • When parents and coaches learned what had happened, why were those who participated in the parties, pictures and tweets, still allowed to play football, undisciplined? 
  • How did this girl find herself in such a dangerous position?
  • How does “Jane Doe” pick up the pieces and move on with her life?

I’ve already addressed the first five questions in posts which are listed below under “Related Articles,” which leads me to the sixth question.

How did this girl find herself in such a dangerous position?

As I address this question, I want to make one thing clear from the  outset, so that there are no misunderstandings. Although “Jane Doe” placed herself in a dangerous position, she did not ask for nor did she invite her rapists to ravage her body. This little girl should not and must not be blamed for the crime committed against her. The blame for the rape, the filming of the rape and the defamation of her character rests squarely on her rapists and their enablers’ shoulders.

Image Credit: http://www.godui.org/news/?p=112

Having said that, it is important, if we want to protect our children and teens, to address this question. How did this girl find herself in such a dangerous position? No one can argue that anyone attending this wild party of teenagers, with alcohol running freely, was extremely unsafe for male or female.

It really saddens me as I read the accusations that have been thrown against the victim of this crime, while the boys who committed the crime have had sympathy heaped on them, as though they were the victims of a crime that she committed against them… Doesn’t anyone remember what it was to be a teenager?

Image Credit: http://listoftheday.blogspot.com/2012/10/ news-of-day-family-makes-disturbing.html

If I think really hard (actually, it’s not that hard to remember), I can remember what it was like to be a sixteen year old girl. I remember what it was like to have a crush on a guy… how my heart would flutter and how I would blush if my current crush happened to glance at me. Does anyone else remember that? And if the guy walked up to you and began to talk to you, do you remember how your heart would pound, and your thoughts would be jumbled up, as you batted your eyes and giggled foolishly, while still trying to look cool? Or was I the only one?

Do you remember feeling as though you would just die if the one you had a crush on chose another girl? Do you remember those awful feelings of rejection, and how lonely and miserable you felt? It felt as if the world around you was crumbling. Do you remember wanting that boy so badly, that you would be willing to do almost anything just so he would want you too?

Image Credit: http://imgfave.com/search/+hey%20arnold

Teenage girls don’t always think rationally. They don’t always make the best or wisest decisions. Their hormones are running wild, and they haven’t yet matured enough to control all of their emotions. Unfortunately, rather than rationalizing things and thinking things through, teenage girls are often led by their emotions.

That’s why it is so important for parents to protect their daughters, because chances are, if they don’t, their daughters can get into all sorts of trouble — not because the girls are bad, but because they are immature and lack wisdom that only comes with age. It is the parents’ responsibility to check up on their teenage sons and daughters. Parents should know their children’s friends. They should know their children’s friends’ parents. When their child is invited to go somewhere overnight, check it out. Take them there and go inside and talk with the adults. Ask if the children/teens will be staying there, or going somewhere else that evening. If they are going somewhere else, get the address of that location. Don’t be afraid to go to that location later on and check it out, and don’t be afraid of embarrassing your son or daughter by making them come home if they are at a party that is inappropriate. It’s a whole lot easier to get over being embarrassed by your parents than it is to get over possible drug addictions, alcoholism or rape.

Before judging this girl, who placed herself in a very dangerous situation, try looking at things from her perspective, and remember, she was just a teenage girl, like many of us were, or for the men who are reading this post, just like your wives once were, or perhaps, like your daughter may be. Most teenage girls think with their emotions instead of their brain. Let’s look at the following statement that “Jane Doe” texted to Trent Mays, because it gives you a clear picture of the victim’s mindset that night she went to the party:

“Ok I liked you a lot and I left that night because I thought you’d take care of me. You were part of it. I was drugged. I never said you raped me but you and your friends did humiliate me. You should have protected me. Anyone with a heart would have.”

Think about it. Here was Trent Mays, the popular, good-looking football player that she “liked alot.” Isn’t it obvious that she had a crush on him? She wanted him to like her too, and she was drinking. Was it wrong for her to be drinking? Absolutely. Did she deserve to be raped for drinking way too much? Absolutely NOT!

Image Credit: (Photo: Keith Srakocic, AP)

Isn’t it clear from reading her text, that her motives and his motives were entirely different? She wanted to be with the handsome football player that she really liked, and she trusted him. It’s clear that she thought he liked her in the same way that she liked him. What young teenage girl doesn’t dream of the handsome football player “liking” her and taking care of her? It’s foolish, but most young people do act foolishly, and that isn’t a put down, most just don’t have the maturity necessary to think past their emotions. Did her foolishness merit rape? No way.

So to get back to the question, How did this girl find herself in such a dangerous position? I think it’s pretty clear. She did what a lot of other girls did and still do when not supervised by adults — she behaved immaturely. But when I look back over my life, there were so many times that I behaved immaturely as well, and I didn’t deserve to be raped. Did none of you ever behave immaturely? Did you deserve to be raped? Of course not!

Both the girl and the boys, and all of the other teens who were at the party behaved immaturely, and should have been monitored by responsible adults, who in my opinion also acted immaturely by not keeping a closer eye on their children. The difference is that this girl was violated and raped. The only crime she committed was a misdemeanor — underage drinking. The boys, however, violated and raped this girl physically and emotionally, and then ridiculed her on social media, for all the world to see, as they completed their acts of humiliation against her. They committed several crimes:

  • Underage drinking — misdemeanor
  • Rape — felony
  • Taking pornographic pictures of a minor — felony
  • Harrassment — misdemeanor

The other teens who witnessed the violations against this girl and took pictures committed the felony crime of taking pornographic pictures of a minor. Those teens who witnessed the violations against the girl and did nothing to stop or report what was happening were guilty of enabling these fiends to further degrade and eventually rape the girl. All behaved immaturely, just as the girl did. Did any of these deserve to be raped? Of course not, and neither did the victim.

Finally, let’s look at all of the adults involved, parents, teachers, coaches, etc. Did any of them check up on their children who were out partying and getting drunk that night? Did anyone hear the commotion outside while the teens were chanting and encouraging one another to urinate on the girl, and try to stop it or call the police? Did Nate Hubbard act maturely by throwing the partiers out of his house instead of calling the police or their parents? Did any of the coaches, teachers, parents and other adults act maturely or responsibly after this crime was committed:

  • Teaching their sons that it is wrong to take advantage of a girl?
  • That it is wrong to video a girl being raped and debased?
  • That it is wrong to laugh at a crime being committed against a teenage girl or any other victim?
  • That it is wrong to go to parties and get drunk?
  • That it is wrong to stand by silently watching while a crime is being committed?
  • That they should call the police in order to stop or prevent a crime from being committed?
  • That they should shower compassion on the victim of the crime, not the perpetrators?

A terrible crime was committed on August 11, 2012, and that needs to be acknowledged. People in Steubenville, Ohio are no different than people in any part of this country or other countries. If this had happened in my hometown, I have very little doubt that people would have responded the same wrongful way as the citizens of Steubenville did. You see, for some reason, people think that if you’re physically attractive, smart and talented at sports or music, or whatever, then you’re a hero.

How wrong they are. Let me show you a real hero:

Many were amazed when they saw Him — beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know He was a person. And He will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in His presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal His saving power? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God for His own sins! But He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. From prison and trial they led Him away to His death. But who among the people realized that He was dying for their sins — that He was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and He never deceived anyone. But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush Him and fill Him with grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, He will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s plan will prosper in His hands. When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of what He has experienced, my Righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. I will give Him the honors of One who is mighty and great, because He exposed Himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.

~ Isaiah 52:14-53:12 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://www.lostseed.com/extras/free-graphics/images/jesus-pictures/jesus-crucified.php

Jesus was a hero. He never played a football, basketball or baseball game, and He never wrestled on the wrestling team. He just came to a lost and dying world and healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, voices to the mute, and life to the dead. He showed love to the unlovable, mercy to those who knew no mercy, acceptance to those who were rejected, hope for the hopeless, and He gave grace upon grace to all who were willing to accept it. He is my hero, and friends, no sports figure can match Him!

Do you know what He would say to the girl who placed herself in a dangerous situation? He would say:

“Don’t be afraid, beloved. You no longer need to live in shame. Come to Me, and I will make you forget the shame of your youth. Cast all of your cares on Me, beloved, for I care for you. 

“Beloved, don’t let others shame you, because I love you. Trust in Me, beloved, with all of your heart, and don’t try to figure things out for yourself. I am with you, beloved, and I will never reject you or turn My back on you. You are My beloved. Behold, I have called you by your name and you are Mine.  When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, and I will be with you wherever you go. 

“Now, My beloved, hold your head up, and be not ashamed, for I am with you. You were wrong to get drunk, beloved, but you did not deserve to be raped. This was not your fault. The fault is not yours, My beloved. The blame rests on the shoulders of ALL who condemned you and trampled on you, so hold your head up, child. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

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