Editorial: This is why rape victims do not speak out

by Editorial Board

We may never know exactly what happened Oct. 17, 2021, when Jane Doe said she was brutally gang-raped by former Aztec football players. What we can say is this: rape victims saw the dumpster fire after Doe’s allegations were made public. They saw the nay-sayers, the slut-shamers, the “she asked for it” comments and took it all in. 

This is why victims do not report rape. 

A horrific experience like this might follow Doe for the rest of her life. 

And she’s not alone. 

Roughly two-thirds of victims do not report rape, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an anti-sexual assault organization. For every 1,000 sexual assaults, roughly 310 are reported. Fifty of those reports lead to arrests. Only half of those arrests lead to a conviction and incarceration.  

Two of the main reasons victims do not report, RAINN claims, is because victims are afraid of retaliation or they believe the police will not do anything. 

We see part of this playing out today. 

The former football players don’t have to retaliate. The public is doing the job for them. Since Doe’s allegations have been made public, so have her name and face. A video allegedly from a party that evening has circulated on social media, paired with grotesque comments. Some said her words in the video mean she either asked for it or deserved it. 

It’s humiliating. It’s traumatizing. And we need to find a way as a society to protect future victims from having to suffer through this kind of experience. 

The criminal justice system will not be changing any time soon. 

That’s why some call it the injustice system. 

What we can do is treat cases with respect, both for the alleged victims and those accused. We can call out slut-shamers and those who blame victims. We can stop trying to guilt victims who choose not to report. 

Students of San Diego State should especially be mindful of this. Universities are a cesspool of lewd conduct. According to RAINN, 33.2% of undergraduate students which SDSU predominantly serves experience sexual assault or rape. There were 14 reported rapes on campus in 2021, according to university police. It’s safe to assume there’s significantly more that went unreported. 

We encourage students to be mindful of how they talk about these gang-rape allegations in coming months. Victims can hear you. They can see if you’re quick to judge, quick to slut-shame or quick to try and convict a 17-year-old girl for choosing to consume alcohol. 

Chances are, someone you know or love is a sexual assault survivor. Whether you are aware of this or not, they are — definitely — noting any judgmental comments you might have made. 

And they’re taking it all in.