How Would Speak's Melinda Have Reacted To This News?

4684525691 aef6d419b7 How Would Speak's Melinda Have Reacted To This News?In Laurie Halse Anderson‘s compelling work of fiction, Speak, the main character Melinda Sordino has a terrible secret that she can’t bear to tell anyone. In fact, her traumatic experience at a late summer party, leaves her almost completely mute for at least eight months, but possibly a little longer. The main reason that she doesn’t want to tell her story to anyone is her overwhelming fear that no one would believe her.

After reading the writing on the bathroom wall, she decides to add her “voice” to the “cacophony” of graffiti, warning people to stay away from Andy Evans. Imagine her surprise when the next time her and Ivy return to the same bathroom, many other girls have joined in the conversation she began. Clearly, people would believe her because it’s quite likely that Evans has assaulted other girls, not just Melinda.

Melinda did go through a horrible experience, one that no one should have to deal with alone. However, a disturbing news article suggests that there is something worse than, or at least on par with, people not believing your victim story. In 1997, Tina Anderson, a 15-year-old girl, was raped several times by an older man she knew from her church group. She didn’t tell anyone because she worried she would be blamed, but when Ernest Willis got her pregnant, she finally went to her mom, who told their pastor about the situation. In a horrifying turn of events, Tina Anderson was forced to go before the church and confess her sins because she was 1% to blame, and then she was forced to leave the state to have the child and give it up for adoption.

Although this story happened 13 years ago, it has seen a resurgence in the papers and online news media because after all this time, Tina Anderson has come to realize that she shouldn’t carry any of the blame for what happened to her by her victimizer. Unlike many other rape victims, Tina Anderson requested that her name be reported publicly by the news media.

This story is something that should have never been allowed to happen in this day in age, but if it happened to one real girl, how would it have played out in narrative form? Had this situation happened to Melinda, it would have been another story entirely, but it does beg the question, “what if?” What would Melinda have done if when she finally told her story to someone, she’d been further victimized by being forced to accept part of the blame?

Please let other people know about this article, especially other women, so that no young girl will ever feel that they deserve even 1% of the blame.

  4 comments for “How Would Speak's Melinda Have Reacted To This News?

  1. April (Books&Wine)
    June 9, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I actually forwarded this article around to everyone at the office yesterday, b/c I work in this field. I absolutely think the victim blaming needs to stop. I don’t care if this is acceptable in the church, that girl did not sin at all, if anything that guy should be the one standing up confessing his sin. Ah, this just burns me up.

  2. Anonymous
    June 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I have no words. Knowing someone who was sexually assaulted, and spending months trying to convince her she wasn’t to blame…this absolutely horrifies me. I am so glad this young woman eventually came to realize she was completely innocent. Thank you so much for posting this. It’s something that needs to be talked about.

  3. June 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    It makes my blood boil too April…I really thought this kind of thing (at least the other people blaming victims) should have ended ages ago. I hope that victims and “bystanders” get a chance to read this article, so that they never suffer like this again.

  4. June 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for your comment – I agree, this is a subject that needs to be discussed openly. Young women often have a guilt complex about sex for a lot of reasons, but part of it, is that there are often mixed feelings that happen during any form of sexual assault. Sometimes the girl, as what happened with Melinda in Speak, wants the attention that a guy is offering her and imagines a whole relationship could be possible from a kiss. It’s hard to separate the feelings about wanting some part of what happens with NOT wanting something else, and it’s very easy to feel confused and guilty about it for a long time to come.

    I glad that your friend had someone like you to help her through these feelings and support her, and I hope that you were able to get through to her finally, just as Tina Anderson realized she wasn’t to blame later.

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