11-Year-Old Blamed For Her Rape

rapist-victim-blaming[1]It should not be this hard to get it through anybody’s head that an 11-year-old child who’s been repeatedly abused is not the problem.”

That’s Mary Elizabeth Williams over at Salon bemoaning that a young girl has been repeatedly blamed for a gang rape meted out by 20 boys and men.

The townspeople of Cleveland, Texas began the indictment, complaining that:

She dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground.

The New York Times reporter who covered the case seemed to think the charge held merit, obediently recording the concerns.

Next, she was blamed in court.

As 20-year-old Jared Cruise stood trial his defense attorney, Steve Taylor, told the jury that she had never reported the rape to police. And that,

She had never shed a tear nor voiced a single complaint about her sexual encounters with any of the 20 males accused of assaulting her two years ago.

When he asked if she had been a “willing participant” she said, “Yes, sir.”

Actually, on her affidavit she said that the men had threatened to beat her if she did not do as she was told. That may have seemed to her like willing compliance.

Taylor then accused her of being, “Like the spider and the fly. Wasn’t she saying, ‘Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly?’”

Her attorney retorted, “I wouldn’t call her a spider. I’d say she was just an 11-year-old girl.”

Taylor scolded, “I hope nothing like this ever happens to your two teenage sons.”

Because, as Williams points out,

Apparently those four months of sustained sexual abuse against a child are something that happened to Jared Len Cruise and 19 other guys.

The girl’s lawyer then played the rape video, saying, “Look at how proud [Cruise] is on that video as his buddies say ‘beat that ho.’”

“Beat that ho.” Yes, that sounds exactly like what a little eleven-year-old would tempt men to do to her.

Victim-blaming often works because so many blame girls and women for their assaults.

Too many believe that women take pleasure in rape even though it doesn’t involve foreplay or clitoral stimulation. And most women need emotional connection to enjoy sex. Since men get off on straight intercourse many think it’s great for women too.

Why didn’t she report the assault to police? She may have felt ashamed or not known that she could. She may have feared the men’s further retribution. Abused kids often feel powerless and unsure what to do. And how do we know that she never cried?

Last week Cruise was convicted of assault. I guess the jury didn’t believe that an 11-year-old “wanted it.”

But if she’d been older, would he still have been convicted?

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Community Bullies Rape Victim
Cheerleader Ordered To Cheer Her Rapist, and Other Stories
12-Year-Olds Wanted Rape, Judge Says

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 5, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. It makes me so very sad and angry to hear stories like this one are so frequent. What kind of deranged, rabid animals have we introduced into society? What makes a baby boy grow up to be a man that rapes? What made him hate women so much?Was he sexually or verbally abused by his mother? Was she by her dad, uncle, or cousin?
    I think we need to shift or priorities in our culture. Instead of focusing on how to buy more and more stuff, we can focus on nurturing our children. Learn how to raise our children to respect themselves and others. Creat a loving, nurturing home life with boundaries and responsibilities. Teach our children what is acceptable. Why has our society degraded so far away from humanity?

  2. Natthinee Sutjaitham

    Nobody “deserves” to be raped. People are sick and always partially blame women for their own rape. The women might have a small portion of the blame for being dressed like that, but the men are the ones that choose to act on these desires in the first place. Rape has existed for hundreds of years, even in those times when women wore so much covering that only their faces were visible. If men say women with short skirts and revealing clothes
    seduce you! it is wrong! they wear these clothes because they feel like wearing them not because they want to invite you to rape her! Men are totally to blame for rape. If you can’t control yourself in the presence of women, you deserve to go to jail. Rape is never the woman’s “fault”. Rape is not about sex–it’s about control, anger and domination.

  3. I cannot imagine what they would have say if the girl was 35 like I was when I was assaulted. I just had got out of the shower and had only a top and underwear on, and the sliding door of my second floor condo open because it was a hot day. I remember clearly police man and “woman” asking me why I go to sleep on my under wear and why was my door open? if the curtains were open for people to see me? and many,many,many times if i ever had a relationship with this guy. WTF? Not to mention how I was treated by the ER every time someone came in they asked me to keep on repeating what happened. There was a point that I felt that this was my all my fault.

  4. Daniela Rodriguez

    I read about this happening a while back and it was pretty disturbing to think that 20 men would rape an 11-year old girl because of the way she acted and dressed thinking that it somehow justified their actions.

  5. I agree that what the victim was wearing during the time they were raped is completely irrelevant, what IS relevant is the fact that the rapist raped them in the first place. It really is as simple as that. It’s ridiculous that women have to “prepare themselves” to possibly be attacked or raped every time they go out, that is terrifying and incredibly unfair.
    Often times what people fail to realize is that even when women do take precautions before going out, they still get raped.

  6. To say that the girl was wearing clothes that doesn’t fit her age… Doesn’t mean for those guys to do cruel things toward such a young girl and SHES 11!! …Those guys should be ashamed and guilty for what they did…. what happens if it was one of there daughters being violated like that!!!

  7. It is disheartening that people perceive girls as “asking for rape” when the very basic definition describes a forcible act between two individuals, without the victim’s consent. How a girl looks does not physically compel a man to violate her body and take away her dignity. These girls need to be protected and supported after being traumatized in such a way. The fact that people still hesitate to do that likely results in numerous other girls to keep quiet in fear. If people only had more empathy for others, they would not drown them in even more misery and perpetuate their suffering.

  8. Alexander Ghanma

    Wow. This is foul. I can’t believe that the way a women dresses is even mentioned. If this were reverse and it were an 11 year old boy dressing up as an older man, it would be thought of to be cute and wanting to grow up and be successful. A lot of little girls play dress up with their mothers clothing to look and feel older and sophisticated, that doesn’t insinuate that they are asking for sex or trying to create a sexual appeal. Now a days, I cans see how little girls look up to pop icons (Like Lady GaGa) and want to dress like them. I think that those type of pop icons aren’t targeting girls at this age. Exposure to these type of “role models” to girls/boys at a young age is hard to control because we are constantly exposed by them. A lot of the pop icons use sex to promote themselves which is sad for many reasons. One being that it sells whatever they are selling 10X better than if they didn’t use “sexual appeal” to their advantage. This is all around, so sad and just wrong. I hate when refer to women like this:

    The girl’s lawyer then played the rape video, saying, “Look at how proud [Cruise] is on that video as his buddies say ‘beat that ho.’”

    “Beat that ho.” Yes, that sounds exactly like what a little eleven-year-old would tempt men to do to her.


  9. Whoa, this planet huh 😦 Rape is not a sexual act, it’s an act of power and brutality. 20 men abusing an 11 year old girl is not sex and only a psycho would call it that, or try to justify it.

    I don’t understand how people can be confused about rape, there is no ambiguity here, if you force someone to engage is sex without their consent, or if they are under the age of consent, then it is rape and it is a crime and you must be held accountable.

    It doesn’t matter if a girl shakes her butt and boobs in my face, if I want to have sex with her I still have to ask and I still have to respect her decision. If I don’t respect her decision I am in the wrong, 100% of the time. There is nothing to be confused about here people

    Thanks for posting this stuff!!


  10. Thanks for sharing this story. I can’t believe that anyone could blame an 11-year old child for a rape. That’s disgusting. Very disappointed in the legal system, that allowed this poor child to be abused even further during the court case with those ridiculous allegations. 😦

    However I do find that the image used with this post is confusing, as it is not clearly related to that story and if taken literally, can do more harm than good. As a parent I support ‘dressing appropriately’ strategy for minimising risk of catching attention of criminals.

    ‘Dressing appropriately’ strategy does not suggest that every man is a rapist by nature. It does not put the blame on the victim and it does not justify rape. It simply takes into considerations that all humans (whether males or females) have biological (e.g. physical body) as well as spiritual (e.g. soul, mind, feelings) components. It also takes into consideration that there are some nasty people in all societies who are interested in another person’s body only without any care about another person’s feelings and wellbeing. Therefore a person with ‘more body’ on display and with no friends around has a higher chance of catching attention of a rapist than other people (in the same way as a person who is walking alone waving $1,000 of cash notes in his hand has a higher chance of catching attention of a robber, than other people on the street).

    I’ve also seen quite a few cases in my life, when young ladies (adults) get into trouble by dressing, drinking and behaving inappropriately. And I’ve seen cases, when young men, who came to their aid, ended up with severe injuries (including fatal injuries). Is it fair for good men to lose their lives because of ladies who can’t control their biological instincts and can’t learn to behave appropriately in public? How would families of injured or killed men feel about that?

    • Provocative dress is an excuse that people use to excuse rapists. To often it lets them off the hook. No rapist should be let off the hook. Sometimes it happens in court, or causes women not to report a rape because they fear that they caused it.

      In the Arab world, where women are covered, the woman is often blamed: She must have let a little hair show! She must have shown an ankle! No man could resist!

      Actually, no man becomes uncontrollable because of what a woman wears. All men can control themselves.

      So-called provocative dress does not cause rape. Rapists cause rape.

      But thanks for your comment.

      • Dear BroadBlogs. I agree with you that ‘dress style’ does not ’cause’ rape. However there are some factors (including three factors listed on the image in that post) that increase a risk of rape. As an example, according to research studies, the highest rape risk situation for women is being taken advantage by a sexual predator after she has become intoxicated voluntarily because:
        • A woman is more likely to place herself in a potentially dangerous situation (e.g., being alone with someone she does not know well) if she has been drinking. In addition, a potential victim would be less likely to recognize “early signs” of trouble and would be less effective in fleeing or resisting should either become necessary.
        • Alcohol also lowers inhibitions and reduces one’s “normal” checks on behavior. A perpetrator is less likely to notice and to respect subtle or direct messages to stop.
        • Drinking interferes with communication between partners. Discussing what you do and don’t want is difficult in an impaired state.

        While avoiding victim blame, these studies recommend focusing rape prevention efforts on the increased threat of rape following inebriation due to voluntary and/or involuntary use of substances with a heavy emphasis on alcohol.

        With regard to ‘provocative’ dress, it does not make a man uncontrollable, but sends a strong non-verbal message that can be easily misunderstood as an expression of ‘interest’ in sex/desire to get other people interested in a lady’s body/sex. In some circumstances provocative dress is appropriate, while in others (especially in combination with alcohol and confusing non-verbal messages e.g. flirting, kissing, hugging etc.) it can increase the risk of rape.

        Therefore I believe that ‘dressing, drinking and behaving appropriately’ message is very important for rape prevention. This message does not provide any justification for rapists in the same way as “Don’t be a victim of car theft. Don’t leave valuables visible in car” message does not provide any justification for thieves while helping a lot in preventing car theft.

      • Women’s dress has nothing to do with being raped. Most women who are raped are dresses modestly. Provocative (so called) clothing just has no effect.

        If you were in Saudi Arabia would you seriously be telling women to make sure no man saw an ankle or her hair because she would risk rape?

        Telling women to limit their behavior takes responsibility off of rapists.

        It also encourages women to limit themselves while continuing to grant men complete freedom, combined with an excuse, should he rape.

        That is what is dangerous.

        This is all very repetitive of our last comments. Everyone has heard both sides and can decide for themselves.

  11. I think I would put it this way.

    If an 11 year old walks in to some guys room, naked, and says she really wants sex, any decent human being would get the kid in therapy as fast as possible – the girl clearly has boundary/sexual issues – only a shit would actually think about having sex with her. In fact, if a 30 year old female stranger walked in naked and asked for sex, only a pretty vile man would say yes.

    The issue is NOT how women present themselves, it is about how men fail to respect them. If women wanted to go about naked, it would still not ‘invite’ men to sexual contact, any more than my going about without a bullet-proof vest invites people to shoot me.

    As for property – actually I DO feel oppressed by burglars. I am forced to have locks and keys, alarms and insurance, because some bastards do not respect my property or how hard I’ve worked for it. This costs me money and time and effort.

    The REAL logical extension of this hollow ‘theft’ argument is to contend that women should have alarms, locks and tin-plated, full-body chastity suits on to protect them from rapists, otherwise they aren’t taking enough care. Fucking idiot.

    A horrible truth BroadBlogs, difficult to share but necessary – thank you.

  12. Now before I get dressed I have to think about the clothing I choose to wear and which of my outfits might be considered to be in the category of ‘increasing the chances of rape’. Are you kidding me? Or am I to use my ‘common sense’ and know which outfits I can wear at 1:00 pm and which ones I can wear at 1:00 am. Maybe I should just divide my closet into two categories. Those outfits which will increase my chance of rape and then those outfits that will decrease my chance of rape. Hmm… I wonder when I should wear those outfits that will increase my chance of rape? I’m with you on this issue Dr. Platt let’s making sure rapist stop raping. Stop blaming the victim. Rape is a crime it is a learned act of sexual violence that comes out of social beliefs that men have a right to dominate and control women. It has nothing to do with what a woman wears or how she acts. Females are not responsible for being raped males are. Rape won’t stop until male behavior changes.

  13. “..I’ve never heard of a news story or trial where a person who was robbed was blamed. …”

    That’s because we hardly ever give away our cash, ipads, cars or TV’s to strangers or friends – so there’s little room for ambiguity or *claims* of ambiguity by thieves ……unlike sex where millions of people do go out each weekend to give their bodies away to friends or strangers so it’s a lot easier for claims of consensual sex to be made.

    A better example would be insurance claims for stolen items. If you go out and leave your house unlocked you’re unlikely to get insurance when everything is stolen, for obvious reasons. In this case the insurance firm is blaming the victim for being a complete idiot.

    • That would be like saying,

      “Have you ever given money to charity?”


      “So how do we know you weren’t contriving to have your money taken from you by force?”

      It’s clear that you want to convince everyone that women are on some level responsible for their rapes or that there is good reason to wonder if they are or you wouldn’t be making any of these ridiculous comments.

      I’m done with this conversation

  14. I don’t even know where to begin. To be honest it doesn’t surprise me that this is happening in Texas. This is frightening that an 11 year old girl would be blamed for her rape. No women asks for rape the blame should be put on the rapist. The most disturbing part in this story is the rapist said she was a “willing participant”. An 11 year old is not going to fight back when her rapist tells her if she doesn’t do what he says he will beat her. It saddens me that even now in 2012 women and girls are blamed for being raped.

  15. yeah… people never cease to amaze me. Then again my brother told me that my rape was not as bad as his because he is a guy. Yep, that is this world’s mentality. It is sicking.

  16. There is a distinction which needs to be made between ‘causing rape’ and ‘increasing the chances of being raped’.

    An 11 year old is still a child and so whether or not she appeared to ‘want it’ or not is not even relevant. It’s rape.

    But the fact remains her hanging around older boys dressed as an adult (if this is true) would have increased the chances of her abuse.

    The fact is girls of that age are being exposed to role models who act sexually provocatively (including getting off on S&M, rape and torture scenarios). The pop brand ‘Rhianna’ springs to mind. She is regularly used to open shopping centres or turn on the Christmas lights in front of thousands of screaming CHILDREN. She acts like a little girl half the time doing that little girl wave thing (like one hand clapping), and then in her videos and live shows she is seen blatantly promoting militarism, genocidal wars, bondage, torture, MK ULTRA style trauma based mind control, Nazis, rape, satanism, imprisonment, mutilation etc (I’m not kidding!).

    The issue here in NOT these subjects themselves – it is the way they are presented. They are presented as sugar-coated ‘party time’ pop aimed directly at kids/ teens. But these are heavy and complex subjects!

    Dark, intense and adult subjects need to be portrayed as such. If they are not they create a state known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. This is where conflicting messages are received at the same time. (Think of a father smiling and gazing lovingly into his daughter’s eyes while praising her for doing the dishes while also beating her senseless with a belt – THAT is cognitive dissonance!)

    Pop music does the same thing when it presents dark and complex subjects such as the occult, mind control, torture, war or surveillance to the soundtrack of pop sung by an infantile pop star or narcissistic fashion-obsessed rapper.

    Anyone who thinks mainstream corporate youth pop culture is created by the youth themselves (GaGa, Jay-Z, Rhianna, Beyonce et al) is sadly misguided.

    Most of the corporate mass entertainments aimed at children (and adults) these days contain bucket loads of cognitive dissonance. As a result we grow up unable to think straight, or feel emotions properly or have clear moral values. And that is precisely the point!

    When a population can’t really think straight, or feel emotions properly or have clear moral values they make much better consumers and tax cows. They are far easier to manipulate into buying stuff or supporting certain policies which they would not if they had their wits about them.

    I’m sure this poor girl has been thoroughly indoctrinated and confused by this kind of entertainment. When parents are too busy/ tired/ absent or neglecting to bring up their children full time they end up being raised (trained) by Hollywood, MTC, Disney etc. It’s a double tragedy….

    For more information about what messages are being pumped into kids’ brains these days check out vigilantcitizen.com

    On a side note…. I find the banner being held up by the woman over simplistic. She might just as well write:

    open windows don’t cause burglary
    unlocked doors don’t cause burglary
    putting your expensive home cinema equipment on display in your front window doesn’t cause burglary
    leaving your laptop inside your car parked with the window wound down doesn’t cause burglary
    burglars cause burglary

    Strictly speaking this is all true. Yet none of us would ever do those things in real life. We accept that that would be inviting burglary. And we do not feel that locking our houses when we go out and not leaving our stuff lying about is ‘being oppressed by burglars’.

    Yet we seem unwilling to accept the idea that this same common sense behaviour might also apply to our bodies.

    “Why shouldn’t I go out dressed as a tart without fear of harassment or assault?”
    “Why shouldn’t I go out leaving my door open without fear of burglary or intrusion?”

    You see my point, I hope (which is NOT about blaming women, just being realistic)

    It’s so easy to confuse ‘being free’ with ‘being free from the consequences of our actions’.

    Freedom requires responsibility. They are different ends of the same pole. Part of the strategy used by the ruling class to take away our freedoms is to PRETEND to be giving us ‘freedom from responsibility’. There is no such thing. Freedom from responsibility is freedom from freedom. (ie the removal of our freedom).

    Dressing up in imaginative clothes (including but not limited to being a ‘tart’) is a wonderful thing….. but like rock climbing, hang gliding, or swimming in the sea you’ve got to take care! 🙂

    • Suggesting that women’s clothing plays a role is both common and ludicrous.

      I hope that we as a society will eventually get that women don’t cause rape by what they wear.


      And obviously, most men don’t rape, regardless of what women wear. And most often women who are raped are not dressed sexy. Rape is extremely high in societies like Egypt where women are completely covered!

      Rape is the only crime for which the victim is blamed.

      Have an expensive car? A nice house? And you got robbed? What were you thinking flaunting your goods? (Doesn’t matter that poor people get robbed, too, and more frequently. It’s your fault for flaunting!)

      I’ve never heard of a news story or trial where a person who was robbed was blamed. We blame the robber. People don’t jump in to say “You should have known better than to be there!” Not so with rape.

      Blaming women is meant as a way to limit them. Men may wear whatever they want, go wherever they want to go, at whatever time of day or night. But women must limit themselves for face the consequences.

      No. Rapists must stop raping.

      btw, your comment is awfully long, and repetitive. I may edit or delete in future. See my comment policy.

      • In Melbourne we had a spate of assault-robberies on trains, which caused the police to advise people not to flaunt their iPhones and electronics when they were on the public transport. I think this is similar…

        However, most rapes are committed by men known to the woman, especially intimately. Any claim that dress causes rape, or increases its likelihood, is not taking into account this simple fact.

        If I am able to be in contact with women who “flaunt it” and not rape them, then clearly other men should be able to as well. The reason they can’t is their problem. Not the victim’s. It may be an issue of upbringing, economic status, social environment, or media influence.

        And, dude, if you want to write such a long response, do it on your own blog!

      • I find it interesting how some people, usually men, often jump in and tell women to dress modestly and watch where and when they go. As though that will prevent rape. When it won’t. Why not tell rapists to stop raping? As you say, men actually can control themselves.

    • I find your analysis of the situation ludicrous and akin to victim blaming. I’ve been in hearings where I’ve heard the exact same argument about putting the TV in the window. So once again, a woman, a child in fact, is responsible or shares responsibility for a brutal crime committed against her. There also is a key point missing in your argument that indicates that you do not understand that rape is a crime of power, not passion. This is also exemplified in this case…”beat that ho.” She was 11 years old and cannot be a “ho.” So-called “hos” don’t deserve to be brutalized either. Also, your points focus on the argument that women are dressing provocatively and placing themselves in dangerous situations. Most rape is acquaintance rape and most rape of 11 year old girls happens right in their own homes by so-called men that are supposed to protect them. I’ve even seen an offender who was being interviewed by a woman from the media tell her that what she was wearing could be construed as provocative. This interview was suppose to inform the public about how to insure their safety. The newscaster had on a business suit and was conducting the interview in a local prison. Do you think for a moment that what happened to that eleven year old, or anyone who has been sexually assaulted can be compared to burglary? Ripped pelvic floor muscles, vaginal and anal tears, deadly diseases etc.? What are you talking about? Don’t intellectualize sexual assault because it is a brutal, repulsive crime that men dominate women and children with that can create lifelong PTSD and physical problems. By the way, in the beginning of this reply I say I’ve heard the “TV” argument in hearings, well, I want you to know that they always lost. I’m glad you weren’t around to skew the issue.

  17. OMIGOD, my head is about to explode just reading this. IF she was scantily clad, and IF she was “tempting” him, and IF she even “willingly consented”, there’s still the obvious issue of STATUTORY RAPE. Period. End of story. You’re a predator and guilty as charged.

    “Lucky” for her that she IS so young, what’s-his-nuts will hopefully be made an example of at sentencing. Had she been 15/16, I wonder if the Defense would have found a way to get him off with just a slap on the wrist.

  18. It’s awful. A few years ago, I co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of an 11-year-old victim in a sexual assault case. Victim-blaming (sexualizing her) was the defense strategy, and gender and racial stereotypes were involved. The trial transcripts were horrific to read.

  19. Oh, this story has haunted, disgusted, and infuriated me since they started reporting on it. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. grishmanphotography


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