In “Bad Art Friend,” The New York Times framed a story with a clear pattern of stalking, replete with vexatious litigation, as a quest for justice. The Daily Beast published a story about a fatal stalking case, its headline blaming the victim for her femicide: “Body of Florida Student Found a Week After Spurned Suspect Killed Himself.” Meanwhile, ABC7NY aired footage of
At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful bitch, don’t ever call me “brave” for a) having had a life-threatening trauma forced upon me and b) talking honestly and angrily about it.
I’ve had my fill of the compliment.
Things you can do in lieu of calling a trauma victim “brave”
As Wagatwe Wanjuki lip syncs, “Actual goals, AF!” her TikTok performance unfolds to the tune and lyrics of Eva Gutowski’s Literally My Life. Clad in athleisure, Wanjuki flashes a grin and a thumb’s up sign. Glitter splashes across the screen and she imitates a victory dance while this message hovers overhead: “Me finding out my rapist graduated law school and became a lawyer.”
Those of us who are the victims of rapists experience the ramifications of sexual assault across our lifespans. One of the ugliest and most painful dimensions of rape’s aftermath is exactly what Wanjuki so brilliantly communicated through TikTok. Rape culture requires the majority of sexual assault victims to co-exist in a society where our rapists do more than move freely. In a rape culture, our attackers thrive.