Does the ugh ever end?
I became aware of this case in two ways: first, I saw it on MSN’s homepage where the headline said that she lied about an assault (which my mind took to mean mugging and which didn’t particularly elicit my interest) and then again on another website–I’m forgetting which one now–which actually used the term rape in the title; that got me to click. After reading about the case, and filling with rage-sadness, I wrote my post yesterday. Later on though, I went to back to MSN and watched the video they had about it which featured Meredith Vieira speaking with two women, one a lawyer and the other, I think, works for a rape crisis hotline. You can google if you’re interested. I don’t want to link it.
They were discussing details of the case and they revealed that police were suspicious of Heidi’s story because of how she updated her Facebook status the days after the alleged attacks and the fact that she’d waited so long, 2 months, to report them.
WHAT?!?!?!?! Is this a joke??
Now, let’s not forget that Heidi Jones lied; she admitted that she lied. I hope she gets all the help that she so obviously needs (hence the sadness portion of the rage-sadness). But let’s for a moment imagine that she had been telling the truth. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that someone in the public eye could attract a stalker–of any race–and that stalker could become sexually violent. One of my best friends from high school had a guy who used to masturbate outside of her window when she was a teenager. It’s gross. It’s scary. It happens.
What I find so upsetting about the motives behind the police’s reaction is that it presupposes that there is some “correct way” to respond to trauma, that somehow we all react in the same way. If that were the case we wouldn’t have the PTSD crisis we have on our hands with soldiers returning home from war. If it were all so cut-and-dry, we would know exactly what to do to successfully rehabilitate them back into society. But we don’t all react the same way so we don’t know what to do, so we do have a vastly underserved veteran community.
As Shakesville says in one of the posts I linked to yesterday:
There is no such thing as a “typical” response to rape. Immediately following a rape, some women go into shock. Some are lucid. Some are angry. Some are ashamed. Some are practical. Some are irrational. Some want to report it. Some don’t. Most have a combination of emotions, but there is no standard response. Responses to rape are as varied as its victims. In the long term, some rape victims act out. Some crawl inside themselves. Some have healthy sex lives. Some never will again.
I can’t help but feel that this will reinforce to women who have the audacity to not fit into what the stereotype of what a rape victim looks like–a White, pretty virgin*, attacked by a stranger, who said “no” repeatedly and who immediately reported it that same night–that they should just keep quiet because no one is going to believe them.
And it’s frustrating because the cops were right to be suspicious of her which means they’ll keep using things like social networking behavior and time elapsed between alleged attack and report as valid markers.
I just…I hate all of this.
*Thought that came to me as I was writing this: saying a promiscuous woman can’t be raped is like saying a philanthropist can’t be robbed.