Dean Michelle J. Anderson spoke to MSN News yesterday about the consequences of online bullying of victims of rape.
The article comes after a 17-year-old died committing suicide a few weeks ago. According the article, her death was preceded by months of depression after she was allegedly raped. Photos of the sexual assault were circulated online, after which she was bullied and taunted by peers on Facebook and via text messages.
“The photos become a trophy, proving and celebrating the hunt and the conquest of the victim,” says Michelle J. Anderson, dean of CUNY Law School in New York and a leading scholar on rape law. “What they end up doing is becoming a mechanism for extraordinary and intense degradation of the victim in the immediate aftermath. And then a mechanism for a lifelong potential harassment.”
She continued, “I don’t think [the prevalence of social media] changes the nature of the rape or assault,” says Anderson. “It does change the nature of the long-term harm of those crimes.”
“Cyberbullying should be taken seriously,” says Anderson, “whether it’s photographing someone during a vicious attack or videotaping someone kissing someone of the same gender and sending that around. This kind of cyberbullying is very serious and has long-term consequences.”
Dean Anderson is a leading scholar on rape law. Her articles have been published in the Boston University Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, Rutgers Law Review, Southern California Law Review, and University of Illinois Law Review, among others. Her article redefining what rape should be legally, “Negotiating Sex,” was selected as the core text on rape law in Criminal Law Conversations, published by Oxford University Press in 2009.