"No human being deserved this."
These were the words of the mother of a 16-year-old girl named Jada after her daughter's rape went viral on social media. Jada, who has bravely chosen to use her name because "there's no point in hiding," said she was at a party last month with friends when the alleged assault occurred. After accepting a drink from the boy hosting the party, which she now believes had been spiked, she passed out.
She had no recollection of the event, but soon became aware of it in the most horrific way imaginable: the very public arena of social media.
Her assault had been turned into folly for a viral trend — it became known as "#jadapose," and it involved photos of an unconscious Jada, Vines, tweets and even a meme of various people imitating her. When the Houston Press asked one of the instigators why he had decided to post the content, he told them he "was bored at 1 a.m. and decided to wake up my (Twitter timeline)."
We've seen stories like this before. Jada's case shares an eerie similarity to last year's Steubenville rape case. That incident, too, involved the assault of a teenage girl, and that case, too, saw photos and videos of the unconscious girl spread like wildfire across the Web.
But unlike the Steubenville case, to which the reactions ranged from disturbing to downright egregious, Jada's story is receiving an overwhelming outpouring of support. While the initial purpose of #jadapose was to make a mockery of a young girl's sexual assault, her supporters have come out in droves to back her.
People are taking notice. Though social media was initially used against Jada, it's now being used to defend her. The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault tweeted out a message of support, and started #jadacounterpose as a response against online attackers:
Rape is *never* funny. #jadacounterpose— Annie E. Clark (@aelizabethclark) July 11, 2014
Consent was absent, and that's an enormous problem. What allegedly happened to Jada is another troubling example of what happens when a person doesn't — or can't — give consent.
"I had no control," she told Houston's KHOU 11 News. "I didn't tell anyone to take my clothes off and do what they did to me."
Consent is paramount in any sexual encounter. In a perfect world, if someone doesn't say yes, that should be the end of things. But as we've seen countless times, this often isn't the way it goes.
Jada's story is also a sobering reminder of what happens when there's a lack of respect for women's bodies. Her alleged attackers thought it was acceptable not only to carry out an assault against an unconscious girl, but to then document it on social media.
Many in Jada's situation would have chosen to hide from the attention. But she's taken a different view: "Everybody has already seen my face and my body," she said. "But that's not what I am and who I am."
By standing up to her attackers in such a public way — by using social media, the very tool that was used against her, to fight back — she has become a hero for victims everywhere. "I'm just angry," she said.
What she went through was disgusting and demeaning, but she has refused to back down. For that, we should all stand with her.