I read a phrase this week I had never heard in my life —“digital rape.” It came from news accounts of the two high school football players who were convicted yesterday of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. The case has attracted international attention due to students texting photos of the naked girl and sharing her assault through social media channels.
I first thought digital rape meant that a cell phone had been used forcibly in the girl’s genitalia. But I was mistaken. Prosecutors charged the football players — Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16 — of penetrating her with their fingers. According to Ohio law, the definition of rape includes digital penetration.
The boys have been sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail and could be held until they are 21 years old.
Teenage witnesses at the party perpetuated the sexual assault with texts, tweets and video to spread the victim’s shame and demise. Sadly, in my opinion, she was raped not only by the boys, but was “digitally” raped by her peers as well.
Mobile devices can literally save your life. Download these apps to keep prevention in your palm!
Circle of 6 (iPhone, free)
Circle of 6 has an unobtrusive screen that’s simple to operate. Two taps will send out one of three predetermined text messages to 6 contacts of your choice including a call for help getting home that automatically includes an address and map of your exact location, or a request for a phone call from you to break up a tense situation. The app also contains pre-programmed national hotline numbers and a local number you can customize for campus security, police or 911. Circle of 6 is the winner of the Department of Health and Human Services / White House “Apps Against Abuse” Challenge and its four developers have significant expertise in the fields of sexual violence prevention, mobile technology, graphic design and healthy relationship building. Three in fact are women.
Hollaback! (iPhone and Android, free)
Users can choose to take and upload a photo of their harasser “caught in the act” and submit their story to be recorded and mapped on ihollaback.org. This not only signals the perpetrator that his image will be shared and posted on a street harassment prevention website, but also warns others of areas in which harassment occurs.
A personal safety alarm that sends an emergency message to your chosen contacts with the push of a single button, bSafe’s slogan is “Never walk alone.” The free version allows you to set up a safety net of “Guardians” who can respond to your SOS text message; one Guardian you designate will receive a phone call.(Both versions give you an unlimited number of Guardians available by text message; the subscription version gives you up to 3 Guardians who can be called simultaneously.) All Guardians receive a text message with a link to a map showing your location via GPS. You can also program a Fake Incoming Call if you are threatened, with six options for when the call should be initiated (immediately, 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes.) The subscription version of bSafe gives you two additional levels of safety: a Risk Mode with real time GPS tracking of your position, and a Timer Mode with automatic alarm activation (e.g. if you don’t log in after the programmed time period, your Guardians will receive an alert with your entire route mapped out.)
This app differs from others in that it places a phone call to your contacts with your name, exact location, the type of emergency. (Being able to specify different contacts for different types of emergencies — such as “Peanut Allergy,” “Stroke” or “Walking Home Alone” — differentiates this from other apps, and it also enable you to identify different locations you frequent such as “Home,” “School” or “Work.”)
cab4me (iPhone and Android, free & subscription versions)
Get a cab. Anytime. Anywhere. That’s the idea behind this mobile cab finder app. Click on cab4me and your phone’s GPS shows your position on a map. You can select that as your approximate pickup location or choose a nearby taxi stand if one shows up based on available data.
GuardSnap (iPhone and Android, $2.99)
This appwas developed after learning real estate agents have been victims of attack when showing property. It can be used as a tool to provide a quick means of documenting and preserving first time personal or business contacts. It’s simple: take their picture, or that of their car or license plate and it sends it to third parties along with time, date, and geographic location. The premise behind this app is that of someone knows they can be identified, they may be less likely to initiate any negative behavior and move on.
If you have an app you would like to share, add to the comment section below.
Approximately two weeks from now, our oldest daughter Morgan will be setting out for a 5-day cruise with a few of her sorority sisters for spring break. Paradise awaits our 20 year old, but so does the lurking possibility of sexual assault. According to the FBI, sexual assault is the leading crime reported on the high seas. Ladies, here is what you need to know beforehandto make sure you have the safest, most worthwhile trip abroad this spring:
When you leave the United States, you leave behind a few protections.
We have certain protections as citizens by the United States that may not apply in every country. There are no police forces aboard these ships, only a security staff with little to no reinforcement backgrounds. Should an assault take place, there is no enforcement to secure the “crime scene” and speak to witnesses. Keep in mind that if the victim is a U.S. citizen, the FBI will investigate, but other countries may have jurisdiction as well.
Medical attention may not be as thorough.
In the event of an assault, rape, or otherwise, it’s important to remember that the medical attention you receive may not be as thorough as a typical hospital or doctor’s office. Ask your travel agent ahead of time if there is a licensed medical physician on board, does the physician speak English, and how and where are the medical facilities. Medical examinations can be costly; meaning your insurance may not be accepted outside of U.S. territory. Luckily for you, “temporary” insurance does exist through The Bureau of Consular Affairs; they have a list of companies available to offer short-term policies.
Now that you have boarded the ship, dangerous situations are still there for you to take caution by. In the event of a rape, assault, etc., it is crucial that you remember these tips:
Do not shower, wash your clothes, or your bedding.
This could destroy valuable evidence that authorities would need to execute a proper investigation.
Immediately seek medical treatment.
Search for the medical facilities aboard the ship, and have a forensic exam done to ensure that any and all evidence is collected. Take photographs of any physical injuries or bruises.
If the assault took place on the ship, call the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Let the authorities know about the crime, and seek advice on how to proceed about the accident from there. The number for the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. is (202) 324-3000. FBI jurisdiction over sexual assault at sea arises under federal criminal law. Be sure to alert the cruise ship’s authorities as well.
Get names and contact information of anybody involved or who may have been a witness to the incident.
If the crime occurs on foreign soil…
Call your nearest embassy or consulate regarding local resources and alert the local police of the crime. Consular personnel should be available 24/7 to assist you. There are a few ways a consular officer can assist you:
Contact your family, friends, employers, etc.
Locate medical services
Provide you with information about the local criminal justice process
Obtain a list of local attorneys who are fluent in English.
Call your doctor as soon as you get home.
Make sure you have received proper medical care and long-term counseling, if necessary.
Spring break is a time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. Keep yourself safe by arming yourself with knowledge and understanding that sexual assault is real and could literally happen anywhere. Be safe and soak up those rays!
About 8,006 miles separate Statesboro, Georgia from New Delhi, India, but despite the distance, I am in the trenches with the women of India who continue to protest the barbaric gang rape of the 23-year-old medical studentwhose life ended as the result of being assaulted. This attack on the woman takes me to the front lines again to shout this battle hymn to the world: violence against women must end.
India, of course, is steeped in a culture that does not truly respect women, but theirs is not the only culture that perpetuates this mindset. It’s here in America too. Look at this information for eye-opening statistics.
Last week’s New York City subway tragedy in which an argument led to the death of Ki-Suk Han after he was pushed by an assailant onto the tracks of an oncoming subway train verified violence is rampant in America. Many journalists chose to report that subway motormen were at fault for not being required to enter stations at lower speeds.
One might think this is the answer. But, as I considered the circumstances, I thought about how many bystanders were on the train platform who did nothing to come to the aid of the victim.
On the night of my sexual assault 22 years ago in a hotel in downtown Atlanta, nearby room guests heard my screams. Police reports verify one man came out of his hotel room as a result of my cries for help.
from the Police report…
“I heard a woman’s voice yelling with an unmistakable “No, No.” I exited my hotel room to look down the hallway and upon seeing nothing but a person’s arched back entering a door, I returned to my room. Yet I still felt uneasy.”
This bystander could have intervened on my behalf!
The man in the subway died needlessly because sadly, people just stood around–an idle curse of humankind.
Rather than be “standers by,” we need to be stander bearers who have courage to get involved when society urges us to look the other way.