In a particularly blatant instance of victim blaming, Danielle Hicks-Best recently came forward to tell the story of the police’s disturbing reaction to her childhood rape:
Hicks-Best was sexually assaulted twice by a group of young men when she was only 11 years old. Despite the fact that her rape kits showed evidence of assault, the rapists were never convicted. What’s worse is that weeks later, Hicks-Best was arrested herself for filing a “false police report.” She was released on an Alford Plea, but struggled to pick up the pieces from the emotional trauma she’d faced for several years. At 18, she is speaking out about her experience with the cops who blamed “the child’s promiscuous behavior” for her assault and claimed that the sex was “consensual.”
This is enraging on EVERY SINGLE LEVEL. First, the police’s job is to enforce the law, and we have statutory rape regulations for this exact reason. Sex simply cannot be legal when one of the participants is underage, and the fact that the force whose job it is to ensure this failed to even recognize this basic fact is not okay. If we can’t trust our cops—those who are supposedly sworn to protect us—to understand our rights and protect us, who can we trust?
This is not just a reflection of a seriously messed up justice system, but the seriously messed up attitude of our culture. So regularly is a woman considered responsible for sexual acts: Whether they are forced upon her or not, she’s the one who is labeled as “promiscuous"; she somehow has all the power and none of it at the same time.
In this case, the cops refused to see Hicks-Best as the child that she was and account for the vulnerability of her age that our laws directly consider. Instead, they blamed her for the terrible violence inflicted upon her when she was only 11 years old. This kind of absurd and damaging treatment has to stop.
Image via Women of Vision Alliance
Marissa is an NYC-based writer who loves feminism, doughnuts, and being outside. She's not a huge fan of writing personal bios, but she does love writing pretty much anything else. Read more of her work at marissadubecky.com.