A 17-year-old rape survivor in Kentucky was facing jail time after tweeting the names of her rapists, but after her story went viral yesterday the District Attorney decided not to pursue charges which would have carried a punishment of a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $500 fine.
After a plea deal was struck with her rapists, Savannah Dietrich disappointed and angered by the lenient punishment, tweeted,
“There you go, lock me up,” before tweeting their names, “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell…They said I can’t talk about it or I’ll be locked up. So I’m waiting for them to read this and lock me up. F**k justice. Protect rapist is more important than getting justice for the victim in Louisville.”
In an interview with The Courier-Journal, Dietrich spoke out about her decision to breach the confidentiality agreement:
“So many of my rights have been taken away by these boys,” said Dietrich, who waived confidentiality in her case to speak to The Courier-Journal. Her parents also gave their written permission for her to speak with the newspaper.
“I’m at the point, that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it,” she said. “If they really feel it’s necessary to throw me in jail for talking about what happened to me … as opposed to throwing these boys in jail for what they did to me, then I don’t understand justice.”
Dietrich’s rapists circulated pictures of the attack around their school shortly after it happened and she was horrified to the point where she was afraid to leave her house. It seems to me that this is a very tricky situation given her attackers were minors but why shouldn’t she be able to shame them after a guilty plea in the same way they tried to shame her by taking and sharing pictures bragging about what they had done? Why should the rapists be given a level of respect that wasn’t afforded to the victim?
Part of the aftermath of surviving sexual assault is being forced to deal with your shame alone and mostly in private. It’s isolating because very few people seem to understand unless they’ve experienced the same thing, and it’s the swiftness with which you are expected to move on with quiet strength and dignity that can be extremely difficult at a time when you may feel you have just been robbed of both.
While the District Attorney may not want to “ruin” these young rapists lives, it’s certainly a little late to prevent life ruining. Tell that to Dietrich, who thankfully won’t be going to jail after publicity around her story put pressure on the District Attorney to do the right thing.