Victims of rape often get shamed into believing that what happened to them is in some way their fault by the clothes they wore or some other idiotic reason. The fact is no one deserves to be raped or is to blame for it happening to them. People need to quit blaming the victim and excusing the rapist, as if he was justified in doing so. Many rape victims do not report when they were raped because of fear they will not be believed. The novel, “Speak”, written by Laurie Anderson, demonstrated what a teen named Melinda Sordino had to live through during her freshman year after being raped. Melinda struggled internally, as well as externally, as many rape victims do.
Just as Melinda in the story was scared, she would not be believed by her friends or her parents, 31% of teen sexual abuse is not reported due to the trauma one would experience if not believed, according to the Center for Disease Control. Melinda was a ninth grader on the cusp of discovering herself in a new world. She had friends and then one night her world completely collapsed. She was raped and like many teenagers, she held all the pain inside until like the tree, as indicated in the story, she began to wither away.
A rapist can commit this vulgar act and only get a 128-day average sentence, according to the Center for Disease Control. According to CNN, Brock Turner, a former Stanford swimmer was only given 6 months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Judge Aaron Persky stated, “Turner’s age and lack of criminal history made him feel that imposing a six-month jail sentence with probation was appropriate”. The father exclaimed in a letter it was “20 minutes of action”. That “20 minutes of action” left a woman discarded like trash behind a dumpster. The victim had to “fight” to be heard by the judge because his concern centered around protecting the star athlete. People were outraged at this decision and tried getting the judge removed from the bench, but the law was on his side. Why should any female or male have to defend themselves when the rapist is at fault? Many teens hide themselves from the world by ostracizing themselves from friends, turning to harmful substances, or committing bodily harm, such as Melinda did with cutting. Why should Melinda have to worry about not being believed? Why should the victim have to hide due to their shame when the perpetrator is running free, enjoying his or her life? Maybe no one wants to admit there is a real problem because then someone would have to do something about it. Young men and women need to be educated on the dangerous situations that one can be placed in, such as the party Melinda became victimized. There needs to be made a clear understanding of what rape is and is not! If a male or female are given anything to inhibit their ability to think clearly, then it is not consensual, it is rape, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Melinda also had parents who did not make her feel safe because they did not have a close relationship. Instead of wandering what was wrong, what caused her to change, her parents were angry with her because her grades slipped, and she was not attending class. Not one attempt was made to have a loving conversation with her to find out why things had changed. Instead of seeing the hurt she was facing, they only saw her as a problem, a disappointment. Parents need to open their eyes when it comes to their children and be the comfort that is needed in troubling times. This can only be done when a parent has a loving relationship and sees the change in their child.
Maybe characters like Melinda can “speak” to readers and from there the occurrence of teen rape can become history.
2 thoughts on “Did “Speak” speak to You??”
I agree with the fact that victims should stop being blamed for being raped, while the rapist gets a “pat on the back”. Women who are raped, sexually harassed, and or sexually abused should never be blamed for what the rapist did. Men who attack and rape women should be held accountable for their evil actions, and they should get whatever punishment it is that they will receive. I, too, think that men should be educated on consent better—this is a problem around the world. If more men were taught at a young age about consent and about respecting women more, then I believe that there will be less women who are taken advantage of—of course rape won’t stop all together, but I think proper education on the matter would help.
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I really enjoyed this post. Speak was one of the first books in the genre that gave a voice to young victims of rape. I love how you talked about statistics surrounding rape. It is so heartbreaking to see facts like that. Rape is a topic that is so taboo, especially for young victims. I’d like to think that it’s a subject that has been brought to light in the past few years, but it is still something that is kept quiet most of the time. Speak brings the conversation to a community that needs it the most, high school students. More students than we would like to think, boys and girls, do fall victim to sexual assault the same way Melinda did. Whether the reader has been through similar experiences as Melinda, knows someone who has, or can’t relate at all, Speak can help inform anyone who reads it. You said everything that I was thinking while reading this book, from the stigma behind rape to the different ways readers can relate to this book. Good job 🙂
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