That Time the Media Blamed & Shamed a Teenage Human Trafficking Victim

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Consensual sex and sexual violence are two very different interactions between human beings.  Sexual violence takes intentional study, experience, and knowledge to fully understand.

“Chile, now how you sound?”

That phrase would stop you in the middle of a sentence. 

Usually, it was a question from

an elder.
It meant you were out of order.
Loud and wrong.
Out of alignment.
Whatever you just said, was incorrect.

You, my dear, had some explaining to do. 

That is the phrase that came to mind a few weeks ago when I read a magazine article.  I don’t  recall the exact publication anymore but several publications ran a similar headline.

Girl, 15, had sex with 25 boys in high school bathroom

Parents stunned after girl has sex with as many as 2 dozen boys in school bathroom

Shocking! 15-year-old girl has sex with 25 ‘willing’ boys in Florida high school bathroom

15-Year-Old Girl Caught on Camera Having Sex With 25 Boys in School Bathroom

When I saw one of these articles float down my Twitter timeline I was on fire.  I was angry because it was wrong.  I was angry because this very thing happened in my neighborhood to a girl I went to school with.  I just happened to be a witness to the aftermath and I will never forget that day. 

But this was back in May 2016.  This time around I am a subject expert with a voice.   I shared my thoughts with the publication.  That day, I was joined by a teacher and a parent/wise concerned citizen.

Here is what I know.

We must stop blaming the victim in this way.

1.In most of these headlines, all of the guilt and shame seems to be placed  placed squarely upon the 15-year-old girl.  Yet, there were 25 boys present. But oh well. Boys will be boys it seems. Shame on these writers.

2. We sincerely questioned whether or not these writers knew that each of these contacts was consensual at the time of the writing. I suspect that it would take quite some time for the police to investigate with so many teenagers involved.

Yes, I understand what the young lady said. 
In cases of sexual violence, ALWAYS give the situation time to settle down.  When emotions are high, people say a lot of things. We should listen to what is said in crisis time. 

We should also listen to what is said in calmer moments.

As it turns out, what was reported initially, was wrong according to the girl’s mother. 

The 15-year-old did not have sexual contact with all 25 boys as nearly all of headlines suggest.  Many of the boys were spectators.

3.  Experts please?  REAL EXPERTS.
I ask that the media of all forms turn to experts when reporting on domestic and sexual violence.  I truly believe that an expert could have greatly assisted any writer to guide their story in the right direction.

Do we want to go around making potentially libelous statements about young girls? I don’t know about winning the civil case. But who wants to go through one.

Then again, even bigger than that, is the moral picture.  This young girl must now continue to attend school. Her name wasn’t used, but the way that she was depicted in the media certainly doesn’t help her.

Just get the facts correct.

Have people learned nothing from the UVA article that appeared in Rolling Stone?

As if this couldn’t get any sadder.  The 15-year-old girl was a human trafficking victim. Please read what the mother had to say to the media:

Mother: Teen Girl Filmed Having Sex in Florida School Bathroom Was Human Trafficking Victim

Writers, what have we learned?  

Listen, just because most adults are capable of engaging in sex doesn’t mean that everyone is an expert on sexual violence. 

Consensual sex and sexual violence are two very different interactions between human beings.  Sexual violence takes intentional study, experience, and knowledge to fully understand.

Please refer to experts on the subject at ALL times.

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Copyright 2016 WE Survive Abuse
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Post Author: Tonya GJ Prince

Posts presented/edited/written by: Tonya GJ Prince. Driven by her life mission to empower, inform, & uplift Survivors; Tonya is also the founder of, Braid the Ladder, & She is a social justice expert with over 24 years experience as a speaker, group facilitator, crisis intervention counselor, writer, advocate & activist. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her Tortie rescue cat MiaBelle, is her longtime co-writer. More
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