What We Should Take Away From The Stanford Rape Case And Its Victim

What We Should Take Away From The Stanford Rape Case And Its Victim

"Be careful, be a good friend, and be an advocate."
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By now, we've all heard about the Stanford rapist (oh, wait, but remember he's also a swimmer. That's an important tidbit to add, right?).

By now, we've all read the statement by his victim, a nameless, faceless young woman. Nameless and faceless like many other rape victims have felt.

By now, all of us are angry. We're scared. We have a tornado of emotions swirling around inside of us, on behalf of the victim and other victims we may know; because of the ignorance of the rapist – because that is what he is. I will not perpetuate the idea that his athletic prowess makes him anything more than the criminal he is - and his father's ludicrous statements.

We have a multitude of options. We can sit here and continue to blast the media for painting young women who drink and who dress a certain way "guilty" for their own rape; continue to berate the assailant and his father for their selfish, ridiculous behavior. We continue to belittle the judicial system with their lessened sentence of six months (three with good behavior) in prison for a 20-year-old man because he has Olympic aspirations or whatever reason they used to justify it, but where will that get us?

Right back here. On our social media accounts, the Odyssey and other online news sources, in the comments section, complaining and yelling at a brick wall. We scream and shout for change - change in attitudes, change in perception, change, change, change - but we are only tiring out our lungs for shouting and our fingers for typing. Change comes not with how many hate words you can type a minute, but with an alteration of your own behavior impacting someone else, and maybe even a society.

We live in a culture where certain people are given a pass because of their gender, while others are told to cover up because of their gender. But, we don't live in a world where the only people that rape others are men and the only people who get raped are women. Is this controversial? Yes. Is it a lie? No.

The point is to make sure situations like this one – the Stanford rapist and his victim, the media circus, the trial, and the act itself – stop happening. How?

I'm not here to say to everyone to stop drinking, stop partying, ladies stop wearing short skirts, and boys stop "being boys." None of that should be a "cause" when it comes to sexual assault. What causes rape? A rapist, plain and simple.

I'm saying we need to be consciously aware that things like this happen, and not just when the media blows up about it. It shouldn't take a (now infamous) swimmer from a prestigious university who got "20 minutes of action" being the man in question for the courts, the media, and us as individuals to care about this issue. It happens more often than we would like to think. And that's the key. We don't like think about it, not until its being shoved down our throats every time we open our Facebook page.

So think about it. After the tornado blows over, after the dust has settled, because eventually this too will fade out of the media spotlight. Remember it, because you know the victim, her family, and yes, even the rapist with the same name as a character from Pokemon, will always remember it. Be aware that these things can happen, and if you are coherent and able - unlike this poor girl - to remove yourself from a situation before it's too late, do it. If you are a friend, relative or significant other to a person who has had this happen to them, be there for them when they need you and give them space if they don't. If you are a friend of someone who, even if sincerely unintentionally, could find themselves in a situation where they are the pursuer, watch out for them, too.

If you are someone who has never known what it's like to endure a type of pain and suffering while still living day in and day out like victims of sexual assault, and you claim to truly care about the issue, speak up. That doesn't just mean sharing this to your Facebook wall, (anyone can click a button) but show in your actions that you care.

Remember this.

Be careful, be a good friend, and be an advocate, if you really do care as much as your Twitter page would suggest. Put the words in the comments section into action, and do not be a bystander. Be a Swede, for goodness sake. Be a voice of reason; a good influence. Be a teacher. Be a hero for your generation and generations to come. But above all else, do your best to be a good person. And if you are a good person, you'll never have to ask what that entails.

Cover Image Credit: nbcnews.com

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Fiction On Odyssey: 1943

All was lost in 1943.
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I give Evelyn a small wave when she opens her door. Her eyes widen, and she then gives me a thin-lined smile. In the light of recent events, her wrinkles are more prominent, and her eyebags sag like weights — the light does not quite meet her eyes the way it used to. Tears brim in my eyes as she opens her arms. I take a step forward, falling into her embrace. I have completely forgotten how it feels to be around her: warm and comforting. For a moment, it was just me, her, and the faint scent of peppermint. Us against the world.

I pull away, but she stops and grips me hard with her fragile hands. Evelyn looks me straight in the eyes and comforts me, "It's okay. It's okay."

She was trying to convince herself too. I hear the strain in her voice.

I have prepared myself a speech for this exact situation, but the words all fall right off my tongue. No sentences are formed, and I am left stuttering my train wreck of thoughts. Giving up, I point at the stairs. Something tells me that she knows why I had come. The sides of her eyebrows sink a little bit more, and she gives me a concerned look, as if she feared this day would come. "You sure?"

I know that I am not prepared for the fall, but I nod.

"Here," she says, widening the door. She steps sideways and motions me in.

The smell of peppermint becomes overwhelming, making me a bit lightheaded. The familiarity of this house catches me off guard, as I have expected everything to be different. But it is exactly how I remember it a year ago: the faint voices of the radio anchor, the dainty vases displayed in the cabinets, and the piles of books that will never be read. But all that has become unimportant as my eyes settle on a photo frame on the wall — it was the ultimate quartet. My mouth quirks up, reminiscing the previous years. Like a film, the memories replay in my mind over and over. I chuckle at the thought of playing hide-and-seek here in this house; that seems like a lifetime ago.

My thoughts are suddenly interrupted by the sound of a dropping porcelain. The fall is sharp, and the sound is piercing. Next, there is nothing but the dull ringing in my ears. My fist clenches together as I brace myself for the next moment. A voice speaks up, breaking the thin silence, "Lilly? Is that you?"

I glance up and search for the source of the voice. When my eyes land on her, my heart plummets. Her hands cover her open mouth, and her eyebrows scrunch together, incredulous at the sight of me. I force a smile. "Yeah, Ruth, it's me."

For the second time that day, I find myself in the arms of somebody else. I do not mind; it is much needed.

"A whole year, Lilly. You can't keep avoiding us." Behind those her eyes, I see that she is hurt by my lack of presence. Guilt rises in me, as I cannot justify my actions and truly do not know what to say.

"I was scared." Tears fall from my eyes, and I immediately feel my cheeks burn from the salty fluid. "I'm still scared."

Ruth does not shift one bit, but I feel her trail of tears on my blouse as well. She whispers, "We all are."

I have never realized this before, but that's when I know it. Though time may have split us apart, we are all still connected by the aching pain.

▂▂▂

According to Ruth, nobody has touched the room since last year. His room was a part of him, from the books stacked on his desk to his clothing hung in the closet. Nobody wants to do anything to disturb this order, so it is left for the dust to settle on.

I open one of his books up, and the thirteen colonies are laid out in front of me. As I flip through more and more pages, history moves forward. As more and more territories and states form, so do all the innovations during this time. And as I saw more and more notes in the margins, I know that I was approaching the 1860's.

There was a point in time when we were all fascinated by the Civil War. The Union vs. the Confederates, the controversies that started the war, the strategic tactics used to defeat the South. We spent many hours discussing it too. However, there was one thing I couldn't understand:

Wars are supposed to unite. We are supposed to grieve and mourn together, stand and hope together. The United States of America. We can't be united if we all refuse to work out our different opinions. And despite the fact that the Unions won, the once-Confederates were in a state of economic struggle: land destroyed, labor forces lost, and families torn apart. In the end, the South learned to despise the North even more.

But, we had shrugged it off, oblivious to the fact that it could happen to any one of us, and we used to dress up and play roles as these historical figures. I had pretended to be Lincoln with his hat, and he had made the sides of his hair stick out and played Davis. Yes, we had made fun of the Southern accents and had tried our best to impersonate these people. It was all very cringe-worthy, but nothing had mattered then. One way or another, we'd end up with the Union crying out in victory.

If I could go back in time and tell our younger selves to rethink everything, I would. War is no game. It's more than a story to tell. It's heartbreak, it's death, and it's the loss of innocence.

About a month ago, our troops marched up the beaches of Normandy with the goal to take over German control in France. Operation Overload, otherwise known as D-Day.

I personally have not heard much about it. The news consists of nothing but warfare and politics, so I've stopped listening long ago. The thought of war brings nothing but a sense of impending doom and uncertainty. And these informants bring more than just news or a story — they instill fear.

I couldn't fathom what it must be like for all those soldiers. Miles away from home, with nothing but fading memories of their families and loved ones. I can't imagine spending the last few years of your life with strangers with one common goal: to stay alive.

From the civilian standpoint, we wish for nothing but their safe arrival back home.

As I move from one part of his room to another, I feel more and more helpless. My eyes land on a picture on the wall. The two of us looking at the camera with big smiles. My fingers trace the outline of his lips, and I choke back even more tears. In that captured moment, we couldn't be more than thirteen years old.

Often times I ask myself, why is the world this cruel? We wake up in the mornings while troops fight on the battlefields, watching their comrades fall. We go to work while they fall into restless sleep, unsure of what the next day holds. We live peacefully while they struggle for us.

No, wars separate. As fathers, husbands, sons — heck, even grandfathers — stumble into the chaos of tanks and aircrafts, they walk away from the comfort of their homes, into the unknown future, if they have one that is. Who knows what time has in store?

And if our soldiers ever come back alive, they'll never be fully well. I've seen the veterans of the Great War; they're restless. They're constantly on high alert, always mapping out potential consequences for everyday tasks.

None of them ever fully recovered. We can't pretend to know the challenges they had faced. Because, in reality, we can't imagine the horrors of their external and internal conflicts, their present, their story.

No matter how many times I beg, cry, or yell, the past is the past. As much as I hate to admit it, nothing could change the fact that William Andrew Thompson was dead.


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Greg Kantra

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