Videotaping sexual assault for social media is a terribly alarming trend… growing at a terribly alarming rate. Shockingly, the “videotaping sexual-assault(s) is reaching an all-time high.” What is a sexual assault? According to the Campus Advocacy Network, a sexual assault is:
• Use of force to any individual, including a threat of force.
• Sexually penetrating a person’s mouth, or bodily orifice with another object, regardless connected to one’s person or not.
• Penetration, minimal inclusive. In cases involving minors the touching of “private” parts, including but not limited to the breasts, vagina, penis, etc.
• Sexually touching a person’s body including their face or any part of their body without thought of the person’s response.
• Forcing the victim to touch the offender’s body in anyway, including penetration with an object, regardless connected to one’s person or not.
In short, it is forced upon the victim.
Videotaping sexual assault is not new. What is new, however, is the age of those committing the offense. With increasing regularity, many individuals, especially the young, watch, record and are willing participants, devoid of any emotion, in these sexual assaults. They beat, kick, urinate-on, rape and humiliate victims, known and unknown. Though some teens are unaware of the criminal severity of participating in, or the videotaping of a sexual assault, there are others who just do not care. Many teens and college-age sexual predators view the sexual assault and its videotaping, as a “big joke.”
Now, more than ever, college-aged and teen-aged individuals look upon sexual assaults as “something funny” and the videotaping of a sexual assault, as “tonight’s entertainment” to be uploaded on social media. Instead of calling 911 for assistance, or they, themselves stepping-in to aid the incapacitated victim, bystanders do nothing more than record and sadly post. For a number of victims, the emotional trauma of knowing that one or more of their counterparts did nothing to help, far outlasts the physical pain of the assault.
As onlookers watch classmates, friends or complete strangers being attacked, degraded and sexually assaulted, the thought of calling the police never enters their mind. In many instances, all that matters is the video quality of the sexual assault.
In August 2013, headlines were made in Steubenville, Ohio when a 16-year-old high school girl was raped while inebriated at a party. The assault, which was executed by two Steubenville high school football players gained unwanted national attention for the Steubenville football team. One or more of the party-goers videotaped the sexual assault and uploaded the video to YouTube. As onlookers gawked and laughed at the assault, no one did anything to help the victim. Instead many made fun of the naked, helpless teen.
In November 2013, another 16-year-old Florida girl was viciously beaten and raped in Hollywood, Florida by five of her high school classmates. The Broward High School student was kicked, punched, dragged and raped by five of her schoolmates; many of whom were minors with at least two of them girls. The assault was videotaped, uploaded to social media, and looked upon as a big joke.
Many would contend that drugs and alcohol play a significant role for one’s participation in this vile trend. While others insist that more-and-more teens are growing into adults devoid of compassion and willing to do anything for a thrill. And though both may be accurate assessments, many experts say onlookers do nothing because of crowd manipulation or the bystander effect.
In his interview with CNN, Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention, spoke about the “bystander effect.” According to Carberry, “If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then doing nothing becomes the norm.”
“The philosopher, Edmund Burke once said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” He also said, for someone to stand-by was worse than committing the act, boosting the source of evil.
Undoubtedly, social media is brimming with videotaped sadomasochistic acts, sexual perversions, sexual tortures/bondage and other acts too descriptive to mention. However, strange as they may be, one can only assume that these acts are consensual and not videotaped sexual assaults.
For many victims, the scar from being sexually assaulted may take years to heal, but add to this a videotaped sexual assault uploaded on social media for the world to see, and it may be a wound which could, ruin a life forever.
Written by: DeBorah Heggs-Alston