Colleen Daly, Director of Media & Strategic Communications
I remember closing my laptop for the night, lamenting that yet another survivor’s powerful account of assault, injustice, and survival, would go ignored. I woke up to find my assumptions shattered as Emily Doe’s words echoed throughout the web, saturating the public consciousness.
It was as if the internet exploded in rage.
“I am every woman” - Emily Doe, Stanford Survivor
In our work at End Rape on Campus, we read narratives like Emily Doe’s almost every single day. Her narrative is as common as it is powerful. My colleagues and I choke back rage as we see survivors retraumatized over and over and over by institutions intended to protect them and seek justice on their behalf. Some survivors are told that “rape is like a football game.” Others are told that their outfits alone signaled consent to the accused. Some survivors, still, are arrested upon coming forward for “making a false report.” Still more are shamed and harassed by their peers for dragging some “talented kid with lots of promise” through the mud.
We believe them.
Just weeks after the Stanford case, John Enochs received, what many called, an extremely lenient sentence for allegedly raping two unconscious women at separate fraternity functions. In the 2015 case, the survivor states she was led into a room by Enochs and assaulted despite repeated protest. After hearing about the 2015 allegations another survivor came forward and reported that she, too, had been assaulted by Enochs in 2013. Eyewitnesses reported they saw Enochs lying naked on top of the survivor despite the fact that she appeared to be “passed out.”
According to the Indy Star, Enochs pled guilty to felony battery, which was reduced by a county judge to “Battery with moderate bodily injury,” a class A misdemeanor defined as “any impairment of physical condition that includes substantial pain.” Enochs served one day in prison before posting bail, payed $183 in court fees, and will spend one year on probation.
As I looked through pictures of Enochs casually playing golf with his buddies days after the bargain, I found myself screaming into deafening silence.
What does it take to make a story go viral? What does it take to make people care? What does it take to believe a survivor? All survivors?
As Julia Canney, an advocate and friend, stated:
We owe it to all survivors/victims of sexual and domestic violence to be perpetually outraged. To be outraged that this happened to them. To be outraged that their friends or classmates did not support them. To be outraged that their university or the legal system failed them when they needed it most. Most of all, we need to be outraged for survivors/victims when their stories are not in the media, not in the news, and maybe not even in court. Support for survivors/victims should not have to be preceded by a powerful public survivor statement, or by a media firestorm of criticism for the parents of a perpetrator of sexual violence. Similar to empty thoughts and prayers for the Orlando victims issued by legislators who routinely vote against LGBTQI protections, posting on Facebook about how terrible the Stanford decision was when you don’t support survivors/victims in your own life is not showing real support or compassion.
So to the Indiana Survivors: I see you. I hear you. I believe you. We believe you. It’s not your fault. You are not alone.
To you, reader — believe them too. Support them too. Be outraged. Do something.
We owe it to the survivors at Indiana, and survivors everywhere to be outraged, and to believe. We owe it to survivors to challenge the acceptance of sexual violence in our society that allows injustice to persist.
So what can you do? Believe survivors. Practice everyday activism. Contact your legislators to support meaningful policy reform. Hold your school/alma mater accountable. Take the pledge to end rape culture. Spread the word about this case.
Your voice has power.