Christine Fox (@SteenFox) shared a story on Twitter about a 13-year-old boy who was accused of raping his disabled grandmother (in her 60’s), after he attempted to rape his grandmother’s home health nurse. This violent and sickening crime inspired Christine to start a powerful conversation on Twitter about rape culture, victim blaming and the age-old belief that women ask to be raped based on what they wear or how they act. So she asked:
Rape is an act of violence, not an act of sexual desire. So to say that what a woman wears directly reflects her being attacked is just foolishness. Rapists choose women based on their vulnerability not their physical appearance, which is why many women (especially those who responded to Christine) were wearing pajamas, or nothing at all (as they were sleeping in their beds with their significant other).
Women are often blamed for their rapes and assaults and critics ask us to dress less provocatively or don’t be so flirty, but honestly, many rapes happen regardless of what the woman or the child is wearing. According to RAINN, 73 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. These stats are extremely accurate, according to the victims who responded to Christine on Twitter. I wonder if there are any stats for rapes in correlation to attire?
Women and girls of all ages, classes, culture, ability, sexuality, race and faith are raped. Reports show that there is a great diversity in the way targeted women act or dress. Christine’s passion truly helped ignite a conversation that needed to happen in real time, with real women. “I was trying to make him understand that it absolutely does not make a difference, and that the responsibility does not lie on women,” she told The Root.
Christine’s question took a turn for viral when a plethora of women responded on Twitter. The outfits they said they were wearing at the time of their attacks were not itty bitty bikinis, cut off shorts and a crop top or any other type of barely there attire that many ignorant people claim beg for attention or “deserve” to be assaulted. In many cases, women were in pajamas, baggy jeans and some of them were even bundled up in coats.
“It’s amazing how so many people remember exactly what they had on. They remember what it smelled like in the house, they remember what they ate. I didn’t know that other people had those experiences, because I hadn’t asked,” Christine said. As this story grew wings and went from Twitter to several popular websites, including Buzzfeed, many of the women who courageously shared their stories, regretted it because of the public attention. As a part of the media, I want to be responsible in my reporting and careful not to revictimize the women who were brave enough to share their memories of rape. Please see Christine’s timeline for the approved Tweets from victims. (I don’t want to make the same mistake other sites did in sharing victim’s Tweets in such a public way).
Christine put a spotlight on the sheer power of social media. Instead of Twitter being used as a place to pointlessly share the menial parts of our lives, Christine discovered a conversation that needed to be public. Thank you Christine. Let me know whatever it is that I can do to help you keep this conversation going. Let’s chat @Rhapsodani.
Check Out This Gallery Of Celeb Women Who Survived Domestic Abuse:
Celebrities Who’ve Survived Domestic Violence
Rihanna and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Chris Brown had a very public breakup and domestic violence dispute in 2009. He was 19 and she was 20.
2. Kelly Rowland
In her song "Dirty Laundry", Kelly Rowland revealed for the first time ever about an abusive relationship in her past. She talks about verbal abuse and her abusive boyfriend turning her against her mother and sister, saying “Nobody love you more than me. Not your mommma, not your Daddy and not B.”
3. Tamar Braxton
Tamar admitted that she had “two boyfriends that like to beat up girlfriends” on “Braxton Family Values.” She’s gone on to say she has no regrets because those abusive relationships helped build her self-esteem and led to her marriage to Vince.
4. Halle Berry
“I saw my mother battered, and could not do anything to stop it – my father was tyrannical, lashing out at her for no reason. I felt the effects that had on our family — I’ve experienced what these women have gone through,” Berry said during a 2009 interview. “I never had to run to a shelter, but I did choose the wrong partners. Not always good men. Luckily, in recent years, I have been smart enough to hit the door when violence even becomes a possibility. That is something I will not tolerate.”
5. Claudette Ortiz
“I noticed that I think happened with me at that time, your worth is broken down, so in some situations you don’t realize the avenues that you do have to get out,” The songstress said during an interview with Hello Beautiful. “In other situations its hard to get out. People view it as ‘oh girl you can get out of that situation’ but its not that easy. When you’re afraid and then there are not that many options especially with women who are involved. I didn’t have any children with him so, thank God. Women who have children with their abusers, it’s even harder, you don’t want to remove the children, its embarrassing to some women, and then sometimes people have their opinions on how you should be handling something. Most of the time its people who have never been in the situation.”
6. Robin Givens
Givens has been very vocal about her violent marriage to former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
7. Tina Turner
Tina Turner first opened up about her story of brutal physical abuse by ex-husband Ike Turner in her memoir, I, Tina: My Own Story.
8. Evelyn Lozada
Evelyn Lozada described her domestic dispute and divorce from former husband Chad Johnson as the darkest days of her life.
9. K. Michelle
Although some people have doubted K. Michelle’s story, the reality star and singer stands by her truth. “I had people send me hate, send me Tweets and do things to me, like I was the one who did it to myself,” she said. “I think a lot of women don’t tell their story, and men, just because you don’t know what people are going to say to you. And more and more, women are coming forward. And I think, if you go through that, you have to use it to help other people. You have to be strong.” Today, she has a partnership with the Saving Our Daughters nonprofit.
10. Whitney Houston
The late Whitney Houston detailed her abusive marriage to Bobby Brown during a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey. “He slapped me, but he was on probation for traffic violations,” she said. “You can’t slap somebody if you’re on probation. It went to domestic violence court.”
11. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey talked about her abusive relationship with Tommy Mottola (1993-1998) during an interview with Larry King. “Abuse has several categories… emotionally, mentally, in other ways. It’s scary,” she said. “I just think you get into a situation and you feel locked in… For me to really get out of it was difficult because there was a connection that was not only a marriage, but a business where the person was in control of my life.”
12. NeNe Leakes
In her book "Never Make the Same Mistake Twice: Lessons on Love and Life Learned the Hard Way", NeNe tackles her painful childhood, the abuse she suffered at the hands of a violent boyfriend, her struggle to support her firstborn son, and her path to true love, self-acceptance, and pride. Additionally she founded The Twisted Hearts Foundation, an advocacy project that aims to make people aware about the issue of domestic violence against women.
13. Gabrielle Union
Actress Gabrielle Union has spoken publicly in the past about the attack she suffered while working the night shift at a shoe store in California when she was 19 years old. She tweeted about her own rape, saying, "Every victim/survivor of rape is unique, including how they THINK they'd like justice 2 be handed out ... During my rape I tried 2 shoot my rapist, bt I missed. Over the yrs I realized tht killin my rapist would've added insult 2 injury."
R&B singer Michel’le revealed that she was beaten by producer Dr. Dre during the course of their 90′s relationship. The domestic violence in the six year relationship (1990-1996) with Dre was apparently “very public” and she revealed she even had to have her black eyes covered in a few of her videos. She thought that it was part of a normal relationship and she saw the abuse as love.
15. Latoya Jackson
La Toya opens up about her abusive relationship with her manager and ex husband Jack Gordon in her reality series "Life With La Toya". She revealed that 'My spouse locked me in the closet ... he would beat me.' 'I knew that one day, I would be able to escape and brush myself off. That is what this show is about. It’s an extension of that and living the life you want to live.'
16. Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson married legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis on November 26, 1981, and they were married for three-and-a-half years. Davis’ physical and emotional abuse of Tyson has been a source of great frustration for many. And it was said that Miles also abused Francis Davis, a Broadway dancer who gave up her career to be with him.
17. Erica Mena
On her relationship with Fat Joe’s best friend Raoul, the father of her son & the video that exposed the demise of the relationship: "What you see with us is just me basically finally defending myself. It was a really a bad time. I was parting ways with that relationship and I thought I had moved on, but before you know it I was being attacked as if I was still in the relationship. It was seven years of it. It’s been a long journey for me."
18. Christina Aguilera
Christina has admitted that her Army Sergeant father Fausto made life hell for her family and she used music as an escape from the trauma of her beatings. She said: "I witnessed a lot of unpleasant things - a lot of pushing and shoving and fighting and quarrelling. Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world. I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain at home is where my love for music came from."
19. Keke Wyatt
"R&B Divas" star Keke Wyatt left her first husband and road manager Rahmat Morton after years of abuse, and even a miscarriage. She is also known for stabbing her ex-husband in self-defense. She is now married to Michael Ford.
20. Jaslene Gonzalez
"America's Next Top Model" winner Jaslene Gonzalez revealed her history with domestic violence on the reality show. She partnered with Liz Claiborne for the "Love Is Not Abuse" campaign, to inspire domestic violence victims to seek help.
21. Lisa Wu
Former "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star Lisa Wu spoke candidly about a violent relationship, most associate with ex-husband Keith Sweat. She said her mission was not to expose, but to show women that life can get better. Although she married Ed Hartwell, the couple have since divorced.