That didn’t take long, though the mob is as much in vogue at the moment as DIY was when “This Old House” hit the airwaves. And if the president can rule by twit, why shouldn’t the “survivor” vindicate her accusations by Facebook?
Facebook statuses are now being used as a way to report sexual assault, without involving authorities whom many distrust. This cynicism follows national cases of sexual assault which share a common ending—the victim is doubted, and the assailant not only walks free, but is typically shown sympathy.
Assailants aren’t shown sympathy, but that’s not the point at all. The point is they aren’t assailants because someone’s status on Facebook says they are, not that the unduly emotional would believe otherwise. Similarly, the victim isn’t a victim, or the dreaded survivor, until the sexual assault is proven to have happened.
But it’s true there is doubt, and with some damn fine reason.
Prior to posting, Couch says she never told the police or reported her assault to the school.
When it happened I was a freshman, and I didn’t know that that was something I should do. So I just sat in my dorm and just dwelled on it. I did not report to anyone at all prior to the Facebook post.
“It’s not made clear to people who are assault victims that this is what you should do when it happens,” Couch says. “Like I was absolutely terrified, had no idea what to do, did not know what was going on until a year later when I was with an ex-boyfriend and I was like recounting it, because I got triggered, and he was like, ‘oh my god, do you realize how big of a problem, like do you realize what happened?’ Because I was in denial.”
A year later she was “triggered,” whereupon she recounted it to her ex-boyfriend, who certainly had the expertise to distinguish a crime. She never told police. She never reported it to her school, because nobody in college ever mentions Title IX, making it a huge secret, and it’s terribly embarrassing to be a female victim of sexual assault, so she kept it to herself “because she was in denial.”
But then she wasn’t, so put it on Facebook!!!
I am not normally one to do things like this, and I have debated doing this since the two years ago that it happened. But I saw something today I cannot ignore. My sexual assaulter marched in Tallahassee today. My sexual assaulter marched for women’s rights.
And what could possibly be wrong about naming your rapist on Facebook, where all your friends will totally understand every excuse? But it gets better, since the accused gets smeared and there isn’t a damn thing he can do about it!* And if that’s not enough of an incentive, there is the institutional obligation to search social media for victims, because to expect them to do anything on their own behalf, as if they were actually victims, would be an outrageous burden and probably victim blaming.
Allison Couch says she did hear from FSU’s Title IX office but didn’t see a point in responding to the university. She says it didn’t seem worth it because she was about to graduate by the time she made the post.
“They reached out to me,” Couch says. “And then I had something else, I think it was victim advocacy. They also reached out to me. I didn’t contact either of them back. But, they got back to me, but nothing from actual like authorities.”
Can you blame Couch for turning to Facebook when “actual like authorities” failed her this way? As for the guys accused in the court of social media?
Imagine being notified that a friend has tagged you in a status –claiming you sexually assaulted them. The claim is never taken to court, where you’re innocent until proven guilty. Instead, the post remains public on the internet.
The resolution seems obvious. Whoever gets the most “likes” wins. It’s the wisdom of the mobs that matters. And rules of evidence, like Blackston’e Ratio, are archaic anyways. Even old man Posner says so.
Earlier this summer, the punk band PWR BTTM’s lead singer, Ben Hopkins, was accused through Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter of sexual assault. PWR BTTM’s tour, including a Tallahassee stop was cancelled and the band was dropped from its label.
Punk rock. Is there any doubt he deserved it?
*Sure, there is an action for defamation, but you can’t get blood from a rock.