This is topic 'When the only unknown is the victim's name' in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by waltdisneysfrozenhead (Member # 2717) on :


If, by now, you don't know the name of the woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape at a Colorado resort June 30, it's probably because you're not interested.
It's certainly not because her identity has been well shielded.

Spend five minutes on Google, and you'll find not only the alleged rape victim's name, but her yearbook photos, phone number, e-mail address, friends - even the address and phone number of the nurse who examined her afterwards.


The Bryant case, however, has revived those questions. Mr. Leykis justified naming Bryant's accuser by saying that, if rape is about violence and not sex, the victim shouldn't have stigma or shame. Others have wondered whether withholding victims' names actually contributes to rape's stigma, cultivating a silent shame. Many have also raised the issue of fairness to the accused: False charges of rape can, after all, ruin a life.

In general, I take the position that neither the accused or the accuser's name should be exposed in media, without that person's consent, for *any* crime. I think this protects all parties concerned from any detrimental effects on their life that such exposure might lead to. If the accused is found guilty, perhaps the press might then be allowed to tell the tale.

I realize that in this day and age of blogs and personal web pages, defining the 'press' has taken on complicated dimensions. I do think, though, that even if just the major distributors of news and gossip are muzzled, this will help protect those involved in the criminal justice system from undue noteriety before the trial is over.

As far as the specific arguments to reveal, or not reveal, the accuser's name in a rape case, I don't know. The reason I bolded the sentence about power is because I thought it was a pretty ingenious argument for revealing a person's name. I've heard from many sources that rape is about power, not about sex. If it is a non-sexual crime, why should there be stigma? Isn't it right, then, to try and mold society and its perceptions of rape by printing the accuser's name?


By withholding names, he says, "you are sending the message that we're protecting you because there's something wrong with you."

On the other hand, the article mentions that


...rape victims' No. 1 concern is people knowing they've been attacked - even ahead of worries about sexually transmitted diseases.

If this is so, then why is this fear so widespread? Is it because this concern is something that is biologically inherent in the psychology of humans? If it's not, and this fear is learned, then where is the best course of action? Should we help (force) society to get over the stigma of rape by revealing the victims whether they want to or not, or should we protect the victims, but by doing so inadvertantly hurt them by reinforcing the idea that they are somehow tarnished or unclean because of their rape?

What does the forum think about this?
Posted by Olivet (Member # 1104) on :
I think if something like that happened to me, I don't think I'd want to keep it a secret.

A crime is a crime. I am not defiled by things that happen to me without my control; I am defiled by those things I chose to do that are wrong.

I would blab. No shame.
Posted by EllenM (Member # 5447) on :
I have issues with privacy. My experiences have been that privacy or secrets allow victimizer to have a ready pile of innocent victims.

My sister-in-laws were sexually exploited (there were drugs involved) in their teens by their uncle. If the first girl had spoken up, her sister could have been spared the experience. The first girl supposedly went to her bishop and he didn’t sound the alarm. “shrugs shoulder and raises eyebrows in dismay* All this was kept hush, hush from the rest of the family. Their older brothers were still going to visit this uncle, with their preteen and teenage daughters. I just pitched a fit when I found out.

Secrecy doesn’t help anyone.

Another example is the Dr. that screws up, because he has malpractice insurance he is able to compensate the wounded party, but the settlement usually comes with a condition. The condition being if you want the money, you have to sign a gag order.

How does this help anyone?
Posted by katharina (Member # 827) on :
Very rarely is secresy a good idea, but there is a difference between secresy and privacy.

In the Kobe Bryant case, it is none of our business. In Ellen's case, the rest of the family needed to know, but it wasn't necessary to post it up at his father's work place so all there could know.
Posted by waltdisneysfrozenhead (Member # 2717) on :
Kat, I think the argument is that an accuser's right to privacy is superceded by the need to de-stigmatize rape. A needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few kind of argument.

I still stand by my stance that neither the accused or the accuser's name should be published until after the trial,and that only if a guilty verdict is found.
Posted by katharina (Member # 827) on :
I like your last statement, Stormy. That would be much better.
Posted by EllenM (Member # 5447) on :
No matter what Kobe’s made himself a household name. Me not being a sports fan I didn't know who he was until recently. Maybe Nike will give him a raise if he's found not guilty, for all the free publicity.
Posted by Shan (Member # 4550) on :
Good questions and observations, Stormy.

Victims of rape have been thoroughly stigmatized by society for centuries. You can see that pattern continuing even here in the hallowed halls of Hatrack. That would be one big reason why victims choose to not report - they lose their anonymity, and therefore a whole host of other societal designations that we take for granted.

While women (in the U.S.A. at least) are no longer valued by their virginal status - important in the marriage markes of old - the old philosophies and beliefs still hold true that make the victim less valuable after being violated.

Other victims do indeed live in fear. Say, family members of homicide victims have the option (here in Wa. State at least) of participating in the Victim Witness Notification Program. Why? Because there have been too many instances where retribution has been visited upon the remaining family members - convicted criminals have made very clear their intention to "get even" and witnesses are quite rightly afraid. Therefore, they ae accorded certain protections (in Wa. State at least, I don't know about other states)so that they can feel more comfortable in coming forward and reporting.

For those that are more interested in Washington State law and practice, visit the following:
and research policy and law at or more specifically
Posted by Darth Ender (Member # 7694) on :
Can you say Duke
Posted by pH (Member # 1350) on :
The first part of what Shan said.

Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
There are still subcultures in the U.S. in which virginity is highly valued, especially in women. Not all people in these subcultures judge a person by their sexual status, but some do, and it's entirely possible for a rape victim to judge herself or feel judged even if no one is actually judging her for being raped. (And then there are the idiots who will judge a woman for being raped. Still. In this day and age!)
Posted by Puppy (Member # 6721) on :
There's also just the unavoidable stigma of being known by other people primarily for a traumatic event in your life. I mean, imagine that at first, you're a comfortably anonymous woman at work, with a small circle of friends, but not interested in having any kind of huge reputation. Then suddenly, you're raped, it's publicized, and now everyone knows you ... but only as "that woman who got raped", and not for anything else.

Whatever society's prevailing attitude about rape is, that just sucks. A lot of people would probably prefer not to let a personal tragedy become their defining character trait in everyone else's eyes. If we can give them the freedom to do that, then we should.
Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :
I blame the whole sexual revolution. This question cannot be answered in order to have the freedom for people to have sex who aren't married. It makes consent, which can never be fully known, which leaves no evidence, the contesting point.
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
Zah? Consent can certainly be known in some cases. For instance, sometimes the rapist confesses. Sometimes the rape vicgtim bears incontrovertible physiological signs of not being sexually aroused.

I do not understand what exactly you are blaming the sexual revolution for, which question cannot be answered because of it, and how that question has any bearing on the discussion.

Prior to the sexual revolution, stigma against rape victims was frequently worse than it is today.
Posted by pH (Member # 1350) on :
Rakeesh, it's my understanding that being horribly terrified often causes the same, uh, bodily reactions as being aroused.

Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
But isn't a huge part of many rape cases the presence of things like major tearing and bruising, making it very obvious that arousal was not evident?
Posted by pH (Member # 1350) on :
Well yeah, probably. Probably because although a lot of rapes don't occur with bruising, those are the easier ones to prove. But when it comes to genital irritation know what I'm talking about, I can't come up with a non-vulgar way of putting it...some women can get those same kinds of things from engaging in consensual sex. So I'm guessing it's a lot harder to prove rape in court in cases where it isn't "violent."

Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Even if it is violent, hasn't it been proven that some women experience signs of "arousal" during a rape? Bottom line is, you can even be aroused and not give consent, and if you don't give consent/ are incapable of giving consent and someone has sex with you anyway, it's rape.
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
Even if it is violent, hasn't it been proven that some women experience signs of "arousal" during a rape? Bottom line is, you can even be aroused and not give consent, and if you don't give consent/ are incapable of giving consent and someone has sex with you anyway, it's rape.
While this is true, the reason commonly given why a woman can't rape a man is that if he is erect, he must have consented. The law is still well behind the science in many ways when it comes to rape.

It used to be the case that if the woman did not cry out or have wounds consistent with physical resistance, she was found to have consented. Which means a woman with knife at her throat would have to risk her life or lose all hope of justice in the courts.

The "reasoning" was that any woman facing rape would rather die than submit, so if she wasn't physically overcome, she must have wanted it.

The inherent difficulty in rape is that the act itself (as opposed to lack of consent) is one that people willingly engage in. If a person hands their wallet to a stranger, we will assume that he was unlikely to do so without duress, because people generally don't do that.

People do have sex with strangers.

Without the physical evidence of lack of consent, it becomes he-said/she-said, which is almost always enough for reasonable doubt.

The important thing to remember is that this is an evidentiary matter. Just because we can't prove it happened doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :

I definitely agree that sometimes consent or lack thereof can't be proven or disproven by anatomical evidence in a rape. Sometimes, depending on the nature of the rape and each party's reaction to it, the more overt physical signs will be missing or different.

But pooka said,

It makes consent, which can never be fully known, which leaves no evidence, the contesting point.

Posted by Boon (Member # 4646) on :
If it happened to me, and I knew that my name would be in the news (even eventually) I don't think I'd report it.

Either I'd be labelled a liar, and of the worst kind, or my parents and children...and anyone else in the world...could read all about what happened when someone violated me.

It would be another violation, and one I wouldn't want. What gives "the many" precedence over my privacy? It's not so much that I'd be ashamed about being raped, but about the violation itself...

This is why it won't work. Too many women would refuse to report it.

ETA: yes, I know how it feels to be violated, but no, I don't feel like sharing today. And really, that's what this is about. Choosing not to provide details to the world about things that are not their business.

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