ON Kilter: Society’s role in self-torture, victim-related suicides

OPINION – When a Nova Scotian teen was gang-raped 17 months ago at her friend’s house, one would have thought it was imaginably the worst thing that could have happened to her save losing her life.

Turns out, she did lose her life that night by a method crueler than rape.

Rehtaeh Parsons was essentially tortured to death.

The boys who raped her documented the incident with a camera and showed the photos to classmates at school. Those who saw the photos surprisingly did not deduce anything wrong had happened but that in fact the photos were evidence of Parsons being “a slut.”

Her tormentors began torturing her by raping her. They continued to carry out the torture and eventual death of this young girl’s person both emotionally and physically by making her relive the rape in the court of unscrupulous public opinion.

Then, the public stepped up to seal her fate.

Instead of support, she was bullied and propositioned. Instead of legal justice she was left to fend for herself.

Parsons hung herself in her bathroom last Thursday night; and this past Sunday, her family removed her from life support.

Torture carried out in the final days of her life by the worst kind of all, self torture.

What is most tragic of all in this is a societal acquiescence to the suicide of victims of crimes.

What could have been done to mitigate this senseless loss of life?

How about we teach our boys to be men?

How about instead of making excuses for them with supercilious verbiage like not wanting the lives of the perpetrators to be ruined for their “mistake,” we treat them like the offenders they are and protect the actual victim?

Some of you may have already forgotten the Santa Clara teen who was kidnapped last year and taken for the scariest ride of her life by boys who knew her.

They would go on to plead their case that it was a prank gone wrong. This community rallied behind the boys largely advocating for their lives to not be ruined by their mistake.

Did anyone think about the girl?

Anyone wondering if her life is a living hell on earth and if she may be hanging on for dear life?

Some would say that two very different things are being compared here, that of rape versus a prank but I disagree.

She, like a rape victim, was forced against her will into a situation that terrified her; and, like Parsons, was left to find comfort in the safety of her family’s fold while enduring a community more concerned about the perpetrators than the victim.

I know this case has been settled for some time and I understand that some restitution may be in the works, but back to my original suggestion: Someone should have taught these boys to be men.

The fact is, had the perpetrators in both of these cases and so many others like them had the fortitude and integrity to respect women and not objectify and torment them, it is reasonable to assert Parsons would be alive today, the young girl from Santa Clara would not be emotionally scarred for life, and others would never be faced with the undeniable challenge of victims – to survive and rise above crimes senselessly committed against them.

Something is wrong with a culture that victimizes the victim and makes an irrational defense for the offender.

Until that is rectified, we should probably prepare ourselves for the statistics on victim-related suicides to increase.

See you out there.

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Related posts

Teens plead guilty in Santa Clara kidnapping case

Attempted kidnapping? Police ask public remain vigilant

Santa Clara kidnapping; juvenile justice and school discipline

Analysis: Pranks and punishment; is ‘stupidity of youth’ a just excuse?

Three teens in police custody for kidnapping

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Glad I'm not in Santa Clara April 12, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I wonder about the young girl in Santa Clara who was abducted and terrorized by three older males. Not only did she experience a lifetime’s worth of terror in that abduction, but she found little support from her community that pressured her to not press charges against her assailants so that they would suffer no penalty or any justice for their terrible actions against another person. I understand even the church weighed in against her and her family on behalf of the boys. Can you imagine what it would be like to be a victim of an assault and find your surrounding community is supportive of the assailants instead of the victim? There’s a problem there. No way would I want to call that home. Hope this girl and her family have found a new place to live where they feel they’re surrounded by supportive neighbors, instead of a community that appears to support the criminals.

  • Bruce Hiatt April 12, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I exhort men everywhere, ever to have in mind the life and teachings of the Master; hour by hour to keep out from their hearts, in the camp and on the battlefield itself, all cruelty, hate, and murder; always to have in their thoughts the few short years of time as against the unnumbered cycles of eternity; never to forget that the gross pleasures of the flesh lead always to destruction,

  • Pave Dudley April 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    More ducking of responsibility. More trying to make what is right, wrong, what is wrong, right. More trying to make what is evil, good, and what is good, evil.
    Our world is in a tail spin, in which I fear there is no recovery.
    There was a time, when the young men in both the Canadian incident, and the Santa Clara incident would have been appropriately dealt with. Not by the “law.” But by the friends, relatives and loved ones of the victim.
    They would have been taught, in a very painful way, that a person’s actions have consequences, and that a person is responsible for their own actions.
    This is exactly the same mind set that is being shown by the lady who ran the stop sign, (in another article,) and is now trying to absolve herself of the responsibility of her own actions. Yes, there are major differences in these situations, but there are no differences whatsoever, in the mind sets of these folks.

  • RPMcMurphy April 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I agree with the post. However, there are plenty of adult males who don’t know how to be men.

    • Big Don April 13, 2013 at 8:07 am

      Have to agree with RPMcMurphy on that! I blame it on two things. First off, is the “absentee father,” that seems to be so common any more. And second, is the men who are unable to actually be men themselves. What chance do their sons have, when dad is a pansy. When men are not men, and women are not women, kids are confused.

  • Sherri Dial April 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I was so disappointed in the School District and the principle at Snow Canyon for not making protection of the young girl the main priority. She has been re-victimized when the boys were returned to school without telling her or making the boys attend a different school. I think it is time we stop blaming the victims and teach our boys to “do the right thing”. I hope I raised my boys to not be the kind of men who take advantage of other. I am always so glad to see them be respectful of others especially those who are less able to protect themselves. I am truly proud of the few neighbors who rallied around this beautiful girl. None of what happend was her fault but she is the one who continues to pay the price.

  • Kelly Foster April 16, 2013 at 7:22 am

    I continue to pray for her. In one swift moment, innosense of youth was taken. Her sweet life will never be the same again. Life can be so cruel. I hope she can feel the love from those of us who truly care..

  • My Evil Twin April 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Don’t know any of the parties involved in the Santa Clara kidnapping. But obviously, the punks who grabbed that girl are “well connected” in Santa Clara and the county. What a crock of crap.

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