I'm no newbie to this whole intertubz thing. I get the whole concept behind trolls. Really, I do. I know it sounds funny, but I was on message board communities on AOL as early as 1995, including one for families of law enforcement officers - if you want to see serious levels of asshattery, you should have seen LEO family chat rooms on AOL back then, pretty much nonstop, "KILL THE PIGS! KILL THEM ALL!111!!!! I LUV BACON!" Jesus.
Then I was on Mommy boards for awhile, and holy shit, the things mothers can argue about with each other and the levels I saw some women stoop to, especially in those days when everyone felt so anonymous behind their user name and before we knew how easy it would be to start finding out who was really behind a user name. There were large numbers of "drive bys", non-regulars who would come through, toss in insults to see the flames shoot up, and disappear. I learned to recognize the subtle pokes and prods and the not-so-subtle ones and not to react.
What I never did learn was why. Why is inflicting pain - or attempting to - on strangers across the world fun? Why do it on issues that are clearly ones that are emotionally gut-wrenching? Almost 20 years since I started commenting on crap on the internet and I still don't understand what is in the psyche of someone that makes them find joy in that. I recognize the people trolling the MP article about the rape list. I picked them out pretty easily. I've learned over the years generally that when my first urge is to immediately type something all rage-y, I'm probably about to respond to a troll and to read further. Oh. Yup. Instincts confirmed.
But identifying them doesn't help me understand them. And in that case, it doesn't make me want to rend them any less. This topic is not a joke. Many, many moons ago (because I am an olds), I was date raped in college. I didn't tell anyone until months after the fact because 1) it was my ex, 2) I was drunk, and 3) everyone liked him. It came close to ruining my life for a good while. My friends didn't understand why my behavior changed so dramatically - drinking more heavily, behaving erratically, crying jags, unexplained anger - and honestly I didn't understand it either. It wasn't until I was drunk again one night and I put into words what had happened that night to a friend and she said, "You know, that was rape," and when I started sobbing that I realized yes, it was, but now what? So what? It was too late. And no one would believe me. It was the 1980s. That just wasn't a thing you even considered. So I did nothing.
I never told either of my parents. What would that accomplish? I did tell several of my friends, but as they were friends with him too, it was ... awkward, to say the least. But I had to explain why I didn't want to be at places where he was or in the same groups. Most of my friends respected that; a few didn't and that told me a lot. I did tell a few subsequent guys I dated because occasionally I broke into hysterical sobbing when touched. Looking back, I'd say I had PTSD. Actually, I'd say I still probably do. The whole Steubenville story sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I had to start turning off any news stories about it and not read anything about it because I was starting to react to it.
Right after that, my teenage daughter was at a sleepover and called us the next morning asking to be picked up, despite having her car. We could tell she was hung over. My gut told me there was more. I kept pushing, she admitted they had been at a party, they were "older" guys there she said she didn't know, but she claimed she was blacked out. My gut wrenched. I told her she could tell me anything, she kept saying there was nothing to tell. She stopped talking to one of her friends that was with her that night. I knew something was up, but couldn't get her to tell.
She made new friends this year. Not better friends. Her grades started slipping. First semester, she failed one course. I suspected she had started smoking pot. This semester, we started getting calls that she was skipping school. She started cutting. All her grades were failing. Then it became clear she was suicidal. Things spiraled completely out of control. We weren't able to get her into a residential program, but did get her into intensive outpatient therapy (like 12 hours a week), and last week she admitted to us ... she was raped at that party. She didn't want to tell us because she knew we'd want her to go to the police and she was afraid that the guy and his friends would then put her name all over Facebook and/or Instagram and everyone would know and so she thought it was better just not to tell. Because in Teen World, you know what's worse than being raped? Everyone knowing you were raped and you TOLD. She says she doesn't know the name of the guy but remembers his face, so I think we could go through the Facebook page of the guy who had the party and ID him. She won't let us; my husband is furious, but I told him she already had her choice ripped away from her once, I am not about to go stomping all over her and force my will on her myself.
So to those people that get their jollies killing time, trolling about the poor men, how easy it should be for women to DO THE RIGHT THING! GO TO THE POLICE! IT'S SO EASY! ....
You all are in serious need of a major rending and I hope the universe delivers it.
(For anyone else who has suggestions on how to be the mother of a teen rape victim, I could use them. Seriously. I don't quite know what to do for her next. She has discussed it in therapy which is why she shared with us - they suggested she be honest with us)