There is just no easy way to write about the Lara Logan tragedy. An accomplished journalist, Logan was brutally attacked and raped while covering the fall of the Mubarak regime. Eventually rescued by a group of Egyptian women and soldiers, Logan’s story has become the latest launching point in a persistent inability to talk about and react to incidents of sexual violent that does not victim blame or feed into a culture of rape.
Predictably Logan has faced a tirade of criticism for simply being a woman covering a once-in-a-lifetime political story. So too have the perpetrators, with some quick to diminish the attack as the natural consequences of Muslim culture. But like every instance of sexual violence, Logan’s attack was not about sex. It was about power.
Educating others around the issues of sexual violence and survivorship is the advocacy group RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). And in the case of Lara Logan, the group sees a real opportunity, a chance to really influence the way we think about why sexual violence occurs and how we can help its victims.
And it comes down to empowerment, says RAINN spokesperson Katherine Hull. “The best thing we can do is to empower back the victims,” said Hull in an interview for Care2.com.
As a public figure, Logan’s story presents some unique opportunities. She’s asked for the public to respect her privacy during this time and, according to Hull, honoring that wish is the “utmost” priority in reporting on the assault. According to Hull, the fact that Logan and CBS have even shared what they have so far can work to help other victims find the strength and courage to come forward. Logan can be that reminder that these women are not suffering alone.
It’s a message RAINN fights daily to promote. And despite the fact that stories like Logan’s exist, that a person is the victim of sexual violence every two minutes in this country, Hull sees reason for hope. “We’re making progress. Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, but since 1993 reporting is up by one-third.”
Hull gives credit, in part, to public service campaigns, college education initiatives and media outreach, allowing honest and accurate conversations around rape, sexual assault and incest, which are more prevalent. Hull points to recent storylines in popular television shows like Private Practice, and to public figures like Senator Scott Brown coming forward and sharing his story of victimhood as changing the tide, albeit slowly.
For those looking for some way to help, for some place to put anger, outrage or sympathy for Logan’s attack, please consider volunteering your time or your resources to groups like RAINN.
photo courtesy of Anna Guttermuth via Flickr