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jared houseUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you have by now heard the news of ex-Subway spokesman, Jared Fogle. He faces between 5 and 12.5 years in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to charges that he paid for sex with minors and received child pornography. His criminal behavior involved at least 14 children. This case was foreshadowed by the raid of Fogle’s Indiana home, which many speculated had to do with the arrest of the executive director of his charity, Russell Taylor. Taylor was arrested on charges of child exploitation, possession of child pornography, and voyeurism, and is currently serving time behind bars.

As with any high profile case, this story has gotten loads of media attention. And whenever the news outlets present a new story, we see hundreds and thousands of comments on these stories. I’ve written about these comments before. Sometimes, the people posting comments actually provide some sort of additional insight or some shred of compassion by the people negatively affected. Sometimes.

jared3Most of the time what we see in comments is a less-than-delightful blend of moral superiority complexes, death wishes, and unoriginal jokes – in this case about the length of Subway’s $5 sandwiches as compared to parts of the male anatomy Jared is sure to receive. Throw in a pinch of racism, sexism, or homophobia if the story is right. Now don’t get me wrong. What Jared Fogle did was disgusting. Reprehensible. Abominable. Repugnant. The thesaurus I used to brainstorm adjectives didn’t list enough words to adequately describe how I feel about Jared’s actions, and the actions of sexual violence perpetrators alike. He deserves prison time, and I believe he deserves more time than he faces. And although I have mixed feelings about capital punishment, I can even understand how some may feel that is a just punishment. I don’t necessarily agree, but I can at least understand it enough that I don’t feel the need to address it. But he most certainly does not deserve to be raped in prison. And neither does any other sex offender.

To say that Jared Fogle deserves to be raped in prison says that there is a line separating where people do and do not deserve rape. And there isn’t. Rape is not justifiable – not when someone is drunk, not when they are wearing sexy clothing, not when they’ve had sex with the person before, and not when they have abused other people. It simply can’t work like that. There are already enough factors silencing victims of rape and sex abuse. We can’t add a time where someone actually does deserve it. That time, that situation, doesn’t exist. Hear me when I say that what are fighting against isn’t rapists, but it is rape in and of itself. What Jared Fogle did can be described using any and all synonyms for the word “vile”. And those same synonyms can be used to describe any sexual assault done to Jared Fogle or any other sexual offender in retaliation.

Put yourself in these shoes for just a second. Let’s pretend – and of course I would certainly never wish this on anyone ever – that someone in your life has been sexually abused or assaulted. Let’s say that they haven’t told anyone, but they are carrying that weight around with them, and have been for a while. One of the reasons they carry that weight is because perhaps they don’t want to admit the circumstances under which they were violated. Maybe they had been drinking. Maybe they were at a party that all their friends and family told them not to go to. Maybe they were a child, and since they didn’t say “no” clearly enough (because they didn’t really know how to), they feel some sense of responsibility for what happened. Even though none of these situations places blame on the person assaulted, society tells them differently. Family and friends tell them differently, even if they don’t mean to. So here we are, with a loved one of yours who was hurt, and they feel like they deserved it.

But maybe they wanted to open up about it to you. Maybe they are ready to tell someone, and they’ve decided that you’re the one that will understand. You’re the one that will hear them out. But then you, out of your completely understandable anger, claim that Jared will “see what it’s like to have that happen to him in prison” or some other equal statement. Think of how you’re portraying yourself to the person who wants to tell you something but already feels blame. You’re telling them that there are situations where someone deserves to be sexually assaulted, and that may push them away. Even if you don’t mean to, this is the message it can send.

Be disgusted by rape. Be enraged by it. But don’t condone it. There are many means of justice. Rape is never one of them.

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  1. Aprilfoolish51

    Wow. Powerful article. I found you by way of your article on Barry Crimmins Call Me Lucky documentary. I’ve seen it 3 times now because it was so profound for me. I’ve never heard anyone else speak about childhood sexual abuse and that it’s a man speaking really rattled me. This and the Jared Fogle story came to my consciousness at the same time and I’m afraid and ashamed to say I became really angry and I posted hate towards Fogle too. You are so right with what you’ve posted. I must say when I hear of someone that has had the power to access so many children and uses it to satisfy deviant behavior there just doesn’t ever seem to be justice. My kids tell me not to expose too much personal info on-line, so I’m trying to be careful with what I say here. I’m 64 years old and have not ever really received counseling for the sexual and mental abuse that happened to me. I have had a bit of counseling over the years but usually about current life situations although did speak to a counselor when I was in my 30’s and essentially told to let it go. I find I am still putting the pieces together, not making excuses, but realizing the impact this had in my life and still has today. I was probably 3 years old when my father started abusing me. He eventually shared me with friends at a bar and co-workers. I never told anyone. But when I was 16 years old I had started piecing together that I had the right to say no. I was extremely isolated and just simply didn’t know my life was different from other little girls. There is no justice ever. But to post hate provides no justice either. For me it’s been a life sentence. I wish I had a way to access help. I’ve looked around my city and see nothing in the way of counseling. I’m old and not in the greatest of health and while I read ” you are not alone” it seems pretty clear I am even tho there are many others out there…I don’t see solutions to this. I wish I could just “let it go” but that’s pretty abstract. I just simply don’t get this evil people seem to have a need to engulf children in. The loss of all innocence and firsts. Disorder of life. I do believe I will follow your site, thank you, you are right.

    1. jamie

      Hello AprilFoolish. Thank you so much for coming here and sharing your thoughts and story. I am so happy that you found us. A couple things I wanted to touch on:

      1) Know that we value anonymity above all on this site. We will never ask you for more information about yourself. We will only see the username you selected for yourself. I just say that because I know you mentioned you and your kids were concerned about internet privacy, and you should be! We very much value privacy and keeping one’s identity anonymous here. That’s one of the primary reasons we exist.

      2) I think that we all felt a sense of extreme anger when the news of Jared Fogle came out. Or literally any other story of children being abused. I don’t fault you for posting hate towards him, because it does seem at times like justice is fleeting and more and more people are getting away with the heinous crimes.

      3) I am so sorry for all that you experienced in your life and I am sorry that you never really had anywhere to turn. But you are definitely correct when you read into “you are not alone”. You’re very much not alone. So many people have experienced similar things to what you have, and the people who post here are a testament to that. Keep on pushing, but don’t let it go! I definitely don’t agree with that advice. Keep telling your story. It’s through telling our stories that we can eventually work toward change. Abusers and rapists would like us to let it go too. But we can’t! These crimes thrive in silence. I will tell my story until I am blue in the face, and encourage others to do the same, until we remove the stigma that surrounds victims. Victims shouldn’t carry the burden of being abused…that belongs on the abuser and the abuser alone!

      Thanks again for commenting here and getting involved. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to share your story at https://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org/tell-story/. We get more traffic in our stories than we do in our articles. And you’d be able to get some feedback (if you’re looking for that) and it’s helpful to others to connect with people’s experiences. If you’d rather not do that, that’s totally okay too! You may also consider giving some kind words to people who share their stories. If you don’t want to do that either, that’s okay too! Just wanted to give a few options for you if you wanted them.

      Thanks again for sharing your words!