A student at the University of North Carolina may be facing expulsion for speaking out publicly about her rape. Landen Gambill has refused to keep quiet about her school’s utterly insufficient response to the report of her rape, and she’s not alone. Melinda Manning, the school’s former dean of students, along with three current and one former student, filed a complaint against UNC with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. Manning says that the school pressured her to underreport rape statistics, and the students’ stories about how their individual cases were handled are nothing short of appalling.
For her part, Gambill is being accused of “intimidating” her rapist by speaking out about her experience. Though she hasn’t named him publicly, UNC officials are calling her behavior “disruptive”, and demanding that she appear in Honor Court—something that sounds like a perfect solution for charges of wikipedia plagiarism, and an insulting, insensitive affront during a rape case. Gambill says that school officials “were not only offensive and inappropriate, but they were so victim-blaming…They made it seem like my assault was completely my fault.”
Now, Gambill may be removed from the school for interfering with her rapist’s studies. And while UNC’s transparent misogyny makes this case particularly baffling, young women everywhere run into this kind of negligence after reporting rape cases. College campuses are rife with belittling, dismissive attitudes toward rape victims, but it doesn’t stop there. The 2012 documentary The Invisible War shows just how impossible it is for men and women who were raped while serving in the military to find justice. In college as well as the armed forces, victims are often forced to live and work alongside their rapists. This scarring, unbearable situation leads many victims to abandon their jobs and studies or, in some cases, take their own lives.
Establishments like UNC are failing rape victims and only serving to traumatize them further. The idea that victims can be “talked out” of their rape charge is as pervasive as it is poisonous. This is just another example of how rape culture serves to demonize victims of sexual assault, tearing them down while they’re at their most vulnerable. I have nothing but abundant respect for Landen Gambill and others who refuse to be silenced about their experiences with sexual assault.
Source: Think Progress
Photo via Markus Schreiber