The Scarlet Letter

Things that don’t justify your abuse:

  1. How you dressed 
  2. The size of your butt
  3. How many guys you’ve dated
  4. How long it took you to speak up

It seemed like we were living in a screenplay. One rumor sparked another, and soon, my high school was plunged into an investigation. It was one of those cases, one hears of, but never imagined would happen so close to home. 

A female student, Katelyn*, was sexually assaulted by a male teacher. She was young– a sophomore. While I was shocked by the disgusting actions that took place in my teacher’s classroom, the disgusting claims my peers made heightened my frustrations. 

One couldn’t bring up the situation without hearing claims that “ she wanted it”. Slut-shaming slurs were thrown around in Spanish classes, and a 15 year old’s butt took on a life of its own as more people sexualized her body.  A middle aged man manipulated a sophomore, yet my community found a way to shift blame onto the victim.The way students, and even parents, demonized this student was the first time I witnessed victim blaming with such intensity. 

Katelyn sat next to me in AP Government, and had a 4.0 grade point average. She ran a 6-minute mile, and would have been captain of the track team next year, if bullying didn’t force her to quit everything she loves and move miles away. If she wasn’t victim blamed.

Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime is deemed responsible for it. Many times, this tactic is used on victims of sexual assault. I was always aware of victim blaming, but seeing it play out before my eyes allowed me to recognize how irrational and vile it is. I’m writing this piece to remind every Katelyn throughout our country, and the world, that you’re not at fault. Although it seems like no one is in your corner, there are so many girls fighting for you. Although it seems like no one is in your corner, that does not, and never will, justify the actions of your abuser. 

*Name has been changed for victim’s protection.

Written by Nadia Lowe