Today, I have a letter to a young woman whose name I do not want any of us to know, because we already know too much about her. We already know how she was assaulted and photographed. We know she was shamed via social media. We know she has been bullied since the young men who raped her were found guilty. I do not want us to know her name because she deserves some modicum of privacy as she tries to heal. But I do want her to know that she is not alone.
Which is why my letter today is to the 16-year-old Steubenville survivor.
Dearest Beloved Girl,
This letter is an apology. An apology for being an adult who has failed to make the world safe for you. Because you should be safe. Even when you make the sometimes stupid, often naive choices that teens make, you should be safe.
Your vulnerability should not invite assault and attack of your body or your spirit. And so I am sorry, because we have failed to teach your male peers that they have no right to touch you without your consent or to use you to meet their needs or to discard you if your victimization does not fit their life plan. I am sorry we have failed you.
This letter is also a note of gratitude for your willingness to report this crime, to take the stand, and to endure the viciousness hurled at you this week.