Obviously, I would have to be a tad stupid not to have noticed news stories about the Stanford rape case that are travelling around the internet at the moment. Also obviously, I have no right to comment on the experiences of the woman who was attacked, and therefore am going to say no more about it. It's her life, no one else's, end of.
What I refuse to ignore however, is how she has been described in the media. I've seen countless news stories describing the effects his actions have had her, which I completely agree with, and identifying her as a 'victim', which I don't.
This was one of the main issues I had throughout the trial to put the man who raped me in prison, I really can't stand to be called a victim. To call me a victim gives him control, tells people that he has taken a part of my life and that I am now suffering because of it. And yes, to an extent this is true, but in his actions I found my own strength and did everything I could to make sure that he spends the rest of his life living in misery and fear. A victim I most certainly am not.
To me, it's similar to the phrases you would use to described a person in a wheelchair. Would you describe them as a wheelchair user? Hopefully not, unless they did so themselves, as that is putting their wheelchair at the forefront of their identity. They are a person who uses a wheelchair, it is not who they are, and therefore should not be given priority.
In the same way, I am not just a woman who has been raped. I am a woman with passion, stubbornness, intelligence and so many other things that make me up as a person. Having been raped, whilst having changed me, has not removed or discredited everything else about me. In the same way that I have blonde hair, I have been raped, I am not a 'rape victim'.
So next time you start to use the V word, think about it. In cases like this you may think you're being sincere, but all you're really doing is focusing on the person who has committed the crime, making them and their actions more important than the person they affected. The man involved in the Stanford rape case may have had a severely negative impact on this woman's life, he did not take away who she is.