Cyber Harassment report: Young women most likely to suffer severe forms of harassment

The Pew Charitable Trust has issued this report on Internet Harassment. Women age 18-24 are the target of far more severe forms of harassment like  sexual harassment and stalking. Young men are slightly more likely to be physically threatened (26%), but 23% of young women have received physical threats, compared to 8% of all social media

The summary of the findings tells us that “Harassment—from garden-variety name calling to more threatening behavior— is a common part of online life that colors the experiences of many web users. Fully 73% of adult internet users have seen someone be harassed in some way online and 40% have personally experienced it, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.”

Young women, those 18-24, experience certain severe types of harassment at disproportionately high levels: 26% of these young women have been stalked online, and 25% were the target of online sexual harassment. In addition, they do not escape the heightened rates of physical threats and sustained harassment common to their male peers and young people in general.”

Title IX on Campus- Know Your IX founder to speak at Trinity College, Hartford


Two speakers from the campus activist organization, Know Your IX, will discuss how to end campus “rape culture” and explain students’ Title IX rights. Dana Bolger, ’14, co-founder, initiated the It Happens Here campaign at Amherst. John Kelly, a senior at Tufts, testified as a survivor at the senate hearing for legislation proposed by Senators Claire McCaskill, Kirsten Gillibrand and Dick Blumenthal.

Jim Clark quoted in Courant re: Victim Rights Enforcement Commission

Sunday’s Hartford Courant featured Monday’s public hearing of the CT Victim RIghts Enforcement Commission, which seeks input from victims of crime about how to improve services for victims. Victim Rights Center’s Executive Director, Jim Clark is quoted.
The meeting is at 5:30pm Monday, October 27, 2014 at the Hartford Public Library.​

Hearings to gather victim input begin Monday, October 20 in CT

The Victim Rights Enforcement Commission in Connecticut wants victim input as they consider recommendations to the legislature to help victims. There are four town meetings, in New Haven (Monday), Hartford, New London & Bridgeport, with another likely to be added in Fairfield.    Dates & times

ALSO: Fill out the victim survey & send it in:

Reading between the lines in Virginia – why rapists run free*

Jesse Matthew, Jr., the man accused of the abduction of Hannah Graham from the University of Virginia campus last month, appears to have been accused of at least two other sexual assaults in the past, according to a New York Times report. Twice before, women brought complaints about Matthew, but neither was pursued. The stated reasons for those failures demonstrate why rapists run free to continue their criminal lives, as Mr. Matthews arguably has done.

CASE #1: Matthew, 2002, Liberty University. A woman reported a rape by Mr Matthew to police, but the prosecutor chose not to proceed with the case. “In our decision not to charge,” [Commonwealth Attorney Michael Doucette told the Times], “it appears to be that, No. 1, the issue was one of consent,” and the victim later declined to return the calls of prosecutors. “Based on my experience prosecuting sex offenses, these cases are hard to prosecute.”

Reading between the lines, what do I see? A prosecutor afraid to or unwilling to pursue “hard” cases when the defense is consent. And more important, the likelihood that the prosecutor’s attitude about “consent” cases was communicated to the victim as skepticism about her report or suggestions that she should not pursue the case. My question to Mr. Doucette is: In these days of DNA, what did you expect the defense to be? What did you or your staff say to the victim about the offender’s consent claim?

CASE #2, Matthew, Christopher Newport University, 2003. A woman reports a rape by Mr. Matthews. Neither the University nor the police pursued the case. “A complaint against Mr. Matthew of sexual assault on September 7, 2003, was made by one of our students,” [Univerity spokesman Bruce] Bronstein said in an email. “The matter was thoroughly investigated by university police. No physical injuries were reported. The victim chose not to proceed with a criminal prosecution.” (Emphasis added).

Reading between the lines, this police department decided not to believe the victim because she had no physical injuries. That attitude, and the likely questioning (“Why didn’t you fight him? Why aren’t there any injuries.”) were almost certainly contributing factors to the victim’s decision not to proceed with prosecution.

Yes, I have created scenarios that might not have occurred. The language in the quotes, however, is all too familiar to those of us working with victims of sexual assault. A leading cause of victim withdrawal (or reluctance to complain at all) is the failure of police & prosecutors to support a victim and to approach the case by believing the victim’s report. See Start by Believing Campaign.

I don’t think I’m going out a limb in reading what I do into these excuses for allowing Mr. Matthew to escape punishment ten years ago. Despite the fact that the authorities in 2002 & 2003 allowed him to go free, Mr. Matthew may well have concluded that killing the victim would eliminate any complaint. Ironically, he was wrong. The disappearance of Ms. Graham finally resulted in a professional and thorough investigation leading to Mr. Matthew, including discovery of video of him stalking the victim, and useful forensic evidence.

Consent cases are indeed difficult. But if investigators take complaints at face value and do a complete investigation (along the lines of the work which tied Mr. Matthews to Ms. Graham), those cases become quite win-able. There is no such thing as a “he said, she said” case, IF time and effort are put into discovering the full background of the perpetrator and his behavior in the past. In a week, investigators found these two prior complaints — because they cared enough to look. I wonder whether, if Ms. Graham had been able to bring a complaint to the police, they would have done as thorough a job.

The “no physical evidence” statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the reality of sexual assault, in which offenders use the minimum force necessary to gain compliance, and in which physical injuries are uncommon. See, Harwell & Lisak, Why Rapists Run Free, from which I have taken my title.

Caveats: (1) I am obviously drawing conclusions about the past investigations based on slim evidence. However, the statements quoted above are too familiar to ignore. It is my experience and that of many others that statements like these are commonly used to dismiss victim complaints. (2) Jesse Matthews, Jr. has not been convicted of any crime, and has only been charged in the abduction of Ms. Graham. He is innocent of a crime until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.