Monday, October 6, 2014

My rapist told me he loved me: Why assault doesn't look like PSAs

There have been two big stories in the news recently, one national and one local. The first is the story of Rehtaeh Parsons, a Nova Scotian teenager who committed suicide after photos of her rape went viral. The second is that of a jogger who was raped in North Chattanooga. At first, they might seem to have nothing more in common than sexual assault. However, they each have a lot to reveal about how we react to stories of rape, depending on how familiar the narrative is.
Parsons' case was in many ways a story we’ve heard all too often. She was a young girl raped at a party, a Canadian version of Steubenville. I don’t need to repeat the details. It’s a story that is familiar from almost any movie or TV show featuring a high school party. Variations have happened in books like "It Happened to Nancy" and in a variety of public service announcements. It’s a horrifying but familiar tale—so familiar, in fact, that everyone from lawmakers to tech startups is trying to address the kinds of rapes we hear about most: those at inebriated parties or on college campuses.

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