Vickie provides valuable perspective.
She also offers an eye-opening, and chilling, possibility.
Vickie is a rape victim. At age 62, she’s lived most of her life with the scar of sexual assault on her psyche. Like many victims, that scar often manifested itself as anger, and showed up to ruin relationships.
Rape “is not funny. It’s not funny in the least,” she says, reacting to the attempt at juvenile humor from the members of the so-called “Charlie Rape Gang” at Lakeside Middle School.
“There’s not one thing funny about rape or sexual molestation,” Vickie says. “It’s not a game.”
The boys were suspended, and are being investigated by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
I talked to Vickie, who now works as a peer mentor for mental health issues, to get her assessment of the notion that anyone could perceive rape as a subject of humor. Her immediate reaction surprised me.
The “joke” bothers her, she says – but she’s more worried that one or more members of the “gang” is acting out because he’s a victim himself.
“When I first heard the story, I thought, ‘I wonder which one it was,’” Vickie says. “It’s a very good possibility that one or more of them has been sexually abused in some way.”
Her worry is that without such abuse being identified, the boys’ behavior could be a tentative step in a continuing cycle of victims becoming abusers.
“It’s pretty well documented that victims of incest or child abuse or rape choose to continue the pattern, or they choose to seek help and break the pattern,” Vickie says. “I would just hope that someone could look into their situations and see if they are indeed being abused... to save someone else from the horrible traumatic experience of rape.”
Intervention now could be the key, she says. “If they can get counseling at a young age, they could break the cycle.”
Dan Hillman, executive director of Child Enrichment – which provides forensic investigators for child abuse cases – says it’s not uncommon for sex offenders to claim they were victims in an effort to gain sympathy.
Ultimately, though, that “wouldn’t carry much weight” with investigators or prosecutors, who only are concerned with the crime, and the criminal, at hand.
In this case, however, it might well be a topic of interest for investigators as they look into the allegations against members of the “Charlie Rape Gang.”
After all, those teens are only simulating sexual assault. If this investigation discovers that one of them actually has been assaulted, this entire case could take a sudden, and far more serious, turn.
At that point, none of it will any longer be a laughing matter.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/