TIME Research

Rape Is Common Among Female College Freshmen, Study Shows

Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.
Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.

Sexual assaults and rape have reached "epidemic levels," researchers say

A new study of first-year women at a large private university in the Northeastern U.S. reveals that many freshman women have suffered some form of rape.

The study looked at 483 women (a relatively small study size) who were a representative sample of the freshman class and who volunteered to partake in the study. The women filled out questionnaires when they arrived on campus, at the end of their fall semester, at the end of their spring semester and at the end of the summer following their first year at college. The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Before entering college, about 18% of the women reported enduring a completed or attempted incapacitated rape (involving drugs or alcohol) since age 14, and 15% reported being victims of completed or attempted forcible rape. Over the study year, the researchers found that 9% of the women reported experiencing attempted or completed forcible rape and 15.4% reported attempted or completed incapacitated rape. Some of the women in the study reported more than one incident. At the end of the study, the lifetime experience of forcible rape was 21.7% among the women in the study, and 25.7% for incapacitated rape.

In general, rape involving drugs and alcohol was most common among the women in the study. The data also suggests that women who had already undergone a rape before entering college were more likely to report experiencing rape during their first year. “These findings are important not only for sexual assault prevention but for mental health promotion on campus as previous work has illustrated that multiple exposures to violence are strongly associated with poor mental health, including suicidality,” a corresponding editorial on the study reads. The study authors add that risky drinking behavior should be a target for prevention.

The researchers conclude that incapacitated and forcible sexual assaults and rape have reached “epidemic levels” among college women. The findings are among a small population of women, but underline that rape is not an altogether uncommon experience among young women. While it should be noted that the study looks at self-reported rapes and not clinically validated assaults, it’s also important to note that Department of Justice data suggests up to 80% of rapes and sexual assaults of female college students go unreported.

The study replicates findings in a number of other studies, which tend to find that close to 1 in 5 women in college are sexual-assault victims. But over the past year, there’s been a great deal of controversy about using the results from one study as a stand-in for a national average of college rape victims. This has been particularly true of the 1-in-5 number often cited by the White House, which comes from the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study of two different colleges. This new study was much, much smaller — its value should be taken as one data point to build a broad picture of sexual assault on America’s campuses.

“These data make clear that prevention programs for both men and women in both high school and college are necessary,” the study authors write. “Programs may need to address trauma-related concerns for previously victimized women.”

TIME India

Indian Nurse Who Spent 42 Years in Coma Following Brutal Rape Has Died

The 68-year-old had been a pivotal figure for the South Asian nation's debate over euthanasia

Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug, a former nurse who spent over four decades in a vegetative state after being raped at a Mumbai hospital in 1973, died Monday morning after a heart attack following a bout of pneumonia. She was 68.

“She was recovering and all her other medical parameters were fine. Today she suffered a sudden attack and could not be saved,” Dr. Ahmad Pazare, head of medicine at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial hospital (KEM), told the Indian Express.

Shanbaug began working as a junior nurse at KEM in the early 1970s, after moving to the city from the southern Indian state of Karnataka. On Nov. 27, 1973, she was brutally attacked by a hospital sweeper named Sohanlal Bhartia Valmiki, who tied her to a dog chain and sodomized her. The incident left her in a vegetative state owing to serious brain injuries. For the past 42 years, she had been confined to ward No. 4 of the same hospital.

In March 2011, Shanbaug became the face of the debate on euthanasia in India after the country’s Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by the writer Pinki Virani that sought permission for a “mercy killing.” Virani’s move was opposed by the nurses and doctors at the hospital who had looked after Shanbaug since she was attacked.

Her rapist served seven years in prison after being convicted of robbery and attempted murder.

TIME central african republic

Residents: French Soldiers Raped African Children in Camp

French forces patrol in Sibut, northeast of Bangui, Central African Republic on April 11, 2014.
Jerome Delay—AP French forces patrol in Sibut, northeast of Bangui, Central African Republic on April 11, 2014.

Similar accusations have emerged against soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea

(BANGUI, Central African Republic) — Residents of a squalid refugee camp said Thursday that French soldiers tasked with protecting civilians had sexually abused boys as young as 9 years old, luring the children with army rations and small change when their families had nothing to feed them.

The accounts given to The Associated Press by one of the boys’ mother and another woman living in the camp came a day after French authorities acknowledged that investigations into the allegations had been underway for months. The children — who described to investigators last year how they were given bottles of water after being sodomized — are still living in the refugee camp, relatives said.

The French government has not explained why the probe was kept quiet, though France’s president promised tough punishment for any soldier found guilty. The probe came to light Wednesday in a report in Britain’s the Guardian newspaper after the alleged whistleblower at the United Nations was removed from his duties.

Details also emerged Thursday of similar accusations against soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea.

“For the moment, we don’t know if the facts have been proven,” French military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron said Thursday, stressing the importance of the French military operation in limiting the bloodshed in Central African Republic where thousands died amid fighting between Muslims and Christians.

France, the former colonizer of Central African Republic, sent several thousand additional troops to Bangui in late 2013 and in early 2014 amid sectarian violence that prompted tens of thousands to seek refuge on the grounds of the capital’s airport.

The mother of one of the children told AP that her son was just 9 years old when he was assaulted by French soldiers. She spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to identify her son as a victim of sexual abuse.

Her family had fled to the airport the first day of the sectarian clashes in December 2013, and she and her son are still living there.

“The children were vulnerable because they were hungry and their parents had nothing to give them, so the children were forced to ask the soldiers for food,” she recalled.

“They took advantage of the children forcing them to perform oral sex and also sodomizing them,” she said. “The moaning of children in the area often started around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.”

Another resident said other abused children ranged in age from 10 years old to 13.

“In exchange for cookies, the soldiers demanded oral sex,” she said, recounting what the children told her. “Afterward they were given bottles of water. They even sodomized the children.”

Paula Donovan, whose group AIDS-Free World has been looking into abuse by peacekeeping personnel, said she had been given a copy of the U.N. internal report that detailed the accusations. She said that 16 soldiers were cited, including one or two who the children said had been on the lookout while the abuses happened.

Children also accused soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea, Donovan said. “A child reported that he had watched from a hiding place as his friend was raped by two soldiers from Equatorial Guinea,” she said in an email. “One soldier stood watch while the other demanded oral sex and then sodomized the boy, and then the two soldiers switched roles.”

She added, “At another point in the interviews, a boy reported seeing a child he knew being sodomized by two soldiers from Chad while a third Chadian soldier watched.”

French military officials refused Thursday to say whether the soldiers have been identified or whether any were still serving in Central African Republic.

The U.N. later set up a 12,000-strong peacekeeping force in September, taking over from regional peacekeepers who hailed from neighboring countries. The U.N. says the investigation is now in the hands of French prosecutors. The chief prosecutor in Bangui’s capital says a local inquiry is being launched as well.

French President Francois Hollande, speaking Thursday to reporters in western France, said if the allegations are proven true, the sanctions against the soldiers should be “very serious” and “set an example.”

About 18,000 people are still living on the grounds of the airport nearly 1½ years after the violence erupted, in some cases seeking shelter under rusty decommissioned planes. At the height of the crisis, more than 100,000 internally displaced people were living there.

TIME France

France Investigates Accusations That Soldiers Raped Children

French President Francois Hollande listens to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Paris, France, April 29, 2015
Christophe Ena—AP French President François Hollande listens to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Paris on April 29, 2015

Accusations have surfaced that French soldiers in Central African Republic sexually abused children they were sent to protect

(PARIS) — French prosecutors and military authorities are investigating accusations that French soldiers in Central African Republic sexually abused children they were sent to protect.

The French probes follow an initial United Nations investigation into the allegations a year ago — all of which were kept secret until a report in the Guardian newspaper Wednesday pushed officials to publicly acknowledge them.

A U.N. worker leaked information about the U.N. investigation to French authorities last year, the U.N. Secretary-General’s office said in a statement. That worker, identified by the Swedish government as Swede Anders Kompass, has been suspended and is now under internal investigation.

Central African Republic has seen unprecedented violence between Christians and Muslims since late 2013. At least 5,000 people have been killed, and about 1 million are displaced internally or have fled the country. France sent troops in late 2013 and the U.N. set up a 12,000-strong peacekeeping force in September last year.

In spring 2014, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country’s capital, Bangui, carried out a probe prompted by “serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by French military personnel,” the U.N. Secretary-General’s office said Wednesday.

The alleged abuse took place before the U.N. force took over. The U.N. investigation has now been passed on to French authorities, said a spokesman for the U.N. human rights office in Geneva, Rupert Colville.

The French government was informed of the accusations in late July 2014, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Military authorities and the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation and investigators went to Central African Republic in August.

Central African children told UNICEF and other U.N. officials in Central African Republic of sexual assaults by French soldiers around the M’Poko airport between December 2013 and June 2014, the French Defense Ministry said.

About 16 French soldiers were accused of abusing 10 boys, between eight and 15 years old, according to Paula Donovan of activist group AIDS-Free World. Some children were given small meals in exchange, she said. Donovan, whose group is investigating abuses by peacekeepers, says she has seen internal U.N. documents about the initial probe into the Central African allegations.

She told The Associated Press that U.N. officials heard testimony from the first boy May 5, followed by others over several weeks until the last testimony June 24.

It is unclear where the children are now, or the alleged perpetrators.

If the accusations are proven true, the French Defense Ministry said it would ensure “the strictest sanctions against those responsible for what would be an intolerable attack on the values of a soldier.”

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, was the author of a lengthy report on preventing sexual exploitation by peacekeepers that the global body commissioned a decade ago after a scandal involving U.N. troops in Congo.

Known as the Zeid Report, it recommended among other things that allegations of abuse be followed by a professional investigation and that U.N. member states should pledge to prosecute their soldiers as if the crime had been committed in their own country.

The allegations are especially damning for France, which sees itself as a model of human rights, and has thousands of troops around former colonies in Africa sent to protect civilian populations in conflict zones.

French President Francois Hollande and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met in Paris on Wednesday night but refused to take questions from reporters afterward and didn’t say anything about the alleged abuse in a brief public statement.

The U.N. Secretary-General’s office said that the leak of the internal documents did not constitute “whistleblowing” but was a “serious breach of protocol.”

“Any issue of sex abuse is a serious issue,” the deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters Wednesday in New York. “At the same time, there are concerns we have about the protection of witnesses and victims.”

Sweden’s government said it was “worrisome” if Kompass was suspended for sharing information about sexual abuse of children on an international mission. Anders Ronquist, legal chief of Sweden’s Foreign Ministry, said in a statement, “The U.N. must have zero tolerance toward sexual abuse of children and ensure that suspicions of such abuse are investigated.”

TIME

Girls Who Escaped ISIS Describe Systematic Rape

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Bilgin Sasmaz—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during a press conference at UN headquarters in New York on April 9, 2015.

Girls are forced into marriage and sold as gifts, aid group says

As they destroy antiquities and capture cities, ISIS fighters have also been engaged in a systematic campaign of rape and sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls in Iraq and Syria, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday.

According to the report, the widespread rape of girls and women from the Yezidi Christian minority group—is part of a organized system of abuse that includes slavery, forced marriage, and giving girls as “gifts” to different men. According to a recent U.N. report, about 3,000 people are currently in ISIS captivity, many of them Yezidi women. Last year, ISIS published an article that lays out its defense of sex slavery on religious grounds, despite the fact that sex slavery is condemned by the international community. “The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said earlier this week.

One 20-year-old Yezidi woman told Human Rights Watch that ISIS held her and about 60 other women in a wedding hall in Syria, to be raped at will. They were told to “forget about your relatives, from now on you will marry us, bear our children, God will convert you to Islam and you will pray.” Here’s how she described the scene:

From 9:30 in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them. I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted. They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from 8 to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.

As horrific as these stories are, they’re not quite new. Human Rights Watch published a similar report detailing ISIS’s forced marriages and conversions of Yezidi people last year, which focused less on specifically sexual abuse and more on widespread devastation of Yezidi communities. Still, international outrage has done little to stop the violence. “People feel quite powerless in the face of a group like ISIS,” says Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch Executive Director for Women’s Rights. “Traditional tactics like naming and shaming just don’t work for them.”

ISIS is not the only Islamist militant group to use sexual violation as a tool of terrorism. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from a school in northeast Nigeria. Based on how Boko Haram has treated other female captives, many fear that the schoolgirls have been forced into marriage or sold into sex slavery. Shortly after the kidnapping, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau boasted that he had taken the girls and planned to “sell them on the market.”

More: Boko Haram Has Fled But No One Know the Fate of the Chibok Girls

But despite the atrocities, there is a glimmer of hope in the latest report on ISIS and the Yezidi women. Yezidi religious leaders have issued statements welcoming abused Yezidi girls back into the community after they escape from their captors, a move that may ease the widespread social stigma against girls who have been victims of sexual assault. “That is unusual, and for me personally, that was a heartwarming part,” says Gerntholtz. “They need to be accepted back, they need to be supported. This was very important and very influential to make sure there were no honor killings or honor-related violence.”

TIME Research

Relatives of Sex Offenders Are 5 Times More Likely to Commit Similar Offenses Finds Study

Genetic factors were found to increase the risk of a sex crime conviction

A new study of thousands of male sex offenders found that close relatives of people convicted of sexual offenses were up to five times more likely than average to commit similar offenses themselves.

Researchers found that about 2.5 percent of brothers and sons of convicted sex offenders are themselves convicted of sexual offenses, compared to about 0.5 percent of the wider public. The correlation, according to the study, is largely due to genetic factors rather than shared family environments.

“Importantly, this does not imply that sons or brothers of sex offenders inevitably become offenders too”, Niklas Langstrom, professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “But although sex crime convictions are relatively few overall, our study shows that the family risk increase is substantial. Preventive treatment for families at risk could possibly reduce the number of future victims.”

The study, which analyzed data on 21,566 men convicted of sex offenses in Sweden between 1973 and 2009, was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

TIME Media

4 Takeaways From the Report on Rolling Stone’s UVA Rape Story

A retraction follows an accounting of an "avoidable journalistic failure"

Rolling Stone magazine on Sunday officially retracted a story about a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house that drew national attention to the issue of campus sexual assault, apologizing to readers after an external report faulted the reporting, editing and fact-checking of the now discredited piece.

The story of a gang rape suffered by a student the magazine called Jackie sparked outrage and put the university and the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on the defensive. But it was quickly cast into doubt by reporting from the Washington Post and others that noted key inconsistencies. In March, Charlottesville police said they were “not able to conclude to any substantive degree” that the incident had occurred.

“We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students,” Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana wrote in a note accompanying the release of a Columbia School of Journalism autopsy on the story. “Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses, and it is important that rape victims feel comfortable stepping forward. It saddens us to think that their willingness to do so might be diminished by our failings.”

Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the article, also apologized Sunday.

“I want to offer my deepest apologies: to Rolling Stone’s readers, to my Rolling Stone editors and colleagues, to the UVA community, and to any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article,” she said in a statement. “Reporting on rape has unique challenges, but the journalist still has the responsibility to get it right. I hope that my mistakes in reporting this story do not silence the voices of victims that need to be heard.”

Here are four takeaways from the Columbia School of Journalism report:

The story was a “journalistic failure that was avoidable”
The report faulted failures in reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking. Dana called it an “individual failure” and a “procedural failure, an institutional failure … Every single person at every level of this thing had opportunities to pull the strings a little harder, to question things a little more deeply, and that was not done.”

The desire to “believe the victim” played a key role
The report notes that even the magazine’s editors and Erdely “have concluded that their main fault was to be too accommodating of Jackie because she described herself as the survivor of a terrible sexual assault.

“Social scientists, psychologists and trauma specialists who support rape survivors have impressed upon journalists the need to respect the autonomy of victims,” the report said, “to avoid retraumatizing them and to understand that rape survivors are as reliable in their testimony as other crime victims.”

Doubts quickly mounted internally after publication
The editors knew that Jackie had refused to identify the lifeguard she said led her to the attack, and allowed Erdely to go ahead with the story anyway without knowing the lifeguard’s name or “verifying his existence.” After the story was published, Erdely again asked Jackie to name the lifeguard, but she couldn’t spell his last name. “An alarm bell went off in my head,” Erdely said. “How could Jackie not know the exact name of someone she said had carried out such a terrible crime against her — a man she professed to fear deeply?”

Don’t expect heads to roll
The report said the magazine’s top editors are “unanimous in the belief that the story’s failure does not require them to change their editorial systems.

“It’s not like I think we need to overhaul our process, and I don’t think we need to necessarily institute a lot of new ways of doing things,” Dana said. “We just have to do what we’ve always done and just make sure we don’t make this mistake again.”

Read next: Rolling Stone Apologizes, Retracts Discredited Rape Story

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Education

Watch Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity’s Video on Ending Sexual Assault

Fraternity member describes what constitutes consent

The fraternity Pi Kappa Phi released a video Thursday pledging support to the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign to stop sexual assault.

In the video, different men relay definitions of what does, and does not, constitute consent. Some examples of consent they give are setting boundaries, open communication and “asking and hearing a yes.” Consent is not given, they say, if the partner is passed out, drunk, coerced or silent.

Pi Kappa Phi has been in national headlines recently when its North Carolina State University chapter was suspended for a book filled with racist and sexist comments written by the fraternity brothers.

“It’s On Us” was launched by the White House in September 2014. The first video for the campaign contained celebrity appearances by Jon Hamm and Kerry Washington; President Obama then made his own clip that was broadcast during the Grammy Awards in February.

 

TIME reproductive rights

Ohio State Rep: Why I Spoke Out About My Rape and Abortion

Teresa Fedor is a Democratic member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

Ohio state representative Teresa Fedor on the shattering incident that compelled her to fight for a woman's right to choose, and against the "Heartbeat Bill"

As an Ohio legislator, I have witnessed for nearly 15 years legislation introduced that intends to marginalize or completely eliminate a woman’s reproductive rights. The most recent and arguably worst offender is House Bill 69, termed Ohio’s “heartbeat bill,” which would ban an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. This bill allows no exceptions for victims of incest or rape, but only ones when a mother’s life is endangered or when she is at risk of serious physical impairment. This means a woman undergoing or physician performing an abortion could be charged with a fifth-degree felony.

Last week, I again found myself enduring the arguments by those in support of House Bill 69. As one legislator after another spoke and gave no reason for excluding victims of incest or rape as exceptions, I felt the overwhelming need to voice my opinion regarding the potential impact of such inhumane legislation. I could no longer be silent.

As I was recognized to speak in the debate on the bill, which passed the House, my frustration was at its peak. At the core of my opposition lay a very personal story but one that I would have to disclose in order to underscore the seriousness of leaving out these exceptions. In one moment, without having planned to speak out beforehand, I made it known that over 35 years ago, I had been a victim of rape and underwent an abortion while serving in the military. Because this happened to me at such a young age, I refused to let this victimization define who I was going to be. More important, I was thankful I had the freedom to make this decision — back then. Unfortunately, it is this freedom that could be stripped from women today.

As the words poured out of me, I proclaimed, “You don’t respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice. What you’re doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I’ve sat here too long. I dare any one of you to judge me, because there’s only one judge I’m going to face.

I dare you to walk in my shoes. This debate is purely political. I understand your story, but you don’t understand mine. I’m grateful for that freedom. It is a personal decision, and how dare government get into my business.”

As a young victim, I made a decision not to carry my pregnancy to full-term. I also know that many women who’ve been victimized by rape make a different decision and carry their pregnancies to full-term. There is no right or wrong answer, and I respect either decision. But it is a personal freedom that should be determined only by the woman whose life it impacts, not by the government.

As an elected official and public servant, I continue to stay true to what I believe is the right thing to do. For nearly a decade, I tirelessly promoted legislation to protect Ohio’s most vulnerable against the scourge of human trafficking. I am proud to have authored Ohio’s first of several anti-human-trafficking bills, setting a precedent throughout our state and country. Comparable to the abortion debate, this issue was widely misunderstood, and others ridiculed or minimized what I fought for.

Sadly, over the past four years, state governments have enacted 231 laws limiting access to abortion, with 26 new laws being passed in 2014, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. Over the years I have felt that the escalating war on our reproductive freedom will require more voices speaking out at the risk of judgment and stigma in our culture. However horrific the circumstances, I was proud to speak truth to that power.

Fedor represents Ohio’s 45th district in the state’s house of representatives.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crime

Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape

"The Divergent Series: Insurgent" New York Premiere
Tyler Boye—Getty Images Actress Ashley Judd attends the "The Divergent Series: Insurgent" premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater on March 16, 2015 in New York City. (Tyler Boye--Getty Images)

"It was time to call the police, and to say to the Twittersphere, no more."

Actress Ashley Judd wrote an impassioned op-ed for Mic Thursday about the link between online harassment and physical abuse. After she endured hateful online vitriol for a seemingly harmless tweet about basketball, she saw a connection between that Twitter harassment and the cultural misogyny that she believes fueled her experiences with rape and incest early in life.

While watching a basketball game Sunday, Judd tweeted that the opposing team was “playing dirty & can kiss my team’s free throw making a—.” She later got so much hatred and so many sexually violent threats on Twitter that she had to delete the original tweet. She wrote:

What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet. Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood. My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually. I know this experience is universal, though I’ll describe specifically what happened to me.

I read in vivid language the various ways, humiliating and violent, in which my genitals, vaginal and anal, should be violated, shamed, exploited and dominated. Either the writer was going to do these things to me, or they were what I deserved. My intellect was insulted: I was called stupid, an idiot. My age, appearance and body were attacked. Even my family was thrown into the mix: Someone wrote that my “grandmother is creepy.”

Soon, Judd realized that the hatred she was experiencing was related to the violence and abuse she had endured as a girl.

The themes are predictable: I brought it on myself. I deserved it. I’m whiny. I’m no fun. I can’t take a joke. There are more serious issues in the world. The Internet space isn’t real, and doesn’t deserve validity and attention as a place where people are abused and suffer. Grow thicker skin, sweetheart. I’m famous. It’s part of my job description.

The themes embedded in this particular incident reflect the universal ways we talk about girls and women. When they are violated, we ask, why was she wearing that? What was she doing in that neighborhood? What time was it? Had she been drinking?

Judd, who in addition to her acting career has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights and even has a degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, describes the rape and incest she experienced in her childhood, and recounts how her therapy allowed her to finally come to terms with an attempted oral rape that she also survived. But then, thanks to a single tweet about basketball, she was barraged with violent sexual threats online.

I felt like I had the chance to finally speak, fight and grieve, and be consoled and comforted. But then, on literally the very next day, I received a disturbing tweet with a close-up photograph of my face behind text that read, “I can’t wait to c-m all over your face and in your mouth.”

The timing was canny, and I knew it was a crime. It was time to call the police, and to say to the Twittersphere, no more.

The full essay is worth a read, and you can check it out here.

Read next: Colleges Need to Think Bigger To End Campus Rape

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