Women who feel the system has failed them are taking to the internet to name their alleged rapists or attackers, as part of a growing trend of digital vigilantism.
It’s known as “rape shaping” and there are several recent examples in Australia of victims using social media to take justice into their own hands.
Police warn that the practice could derail ongoing investigations and hurt the chances of prosecution, not to mention the potential for defamation proceedings brought by those named.
But those who’ve rape shamed say they have no alternative, few regrets and nothing to lose.
Hagar Cohen has spent months investigating the issue for the ABC Radio National show “Background Briefing” and spoke to some 30 women impacted by rape or sexual assault.
Some had named their alleged attackers and others were planning to, spurred on by the belief that the justice system couldn’t — or wouldn’t — help them, she said.
“The women I spoke to felt a desire to protect other people from their abusers and many felt a sense of guilt that if they didn’t do something, they would let down other people,” Cohen said.
One victim who was raped when she was just 15 is preparing to name her attacker online and believes it will bring her some comfort, she said.
From her act of revenge, the man would forever be known as a rapist — an outcome that she felt “wonderful” about.
“She said to me that it would ‘probably be the biggest f–k you’ she could give,” Cohen recalled.
“He had taken so much power from her, she felt powerless, and she thought it would be beneficial to take some back. She said: ‘I just want the whole world to know what a horrible, disgusting person he is.’”
Lauren Ingram is a journalist who in June took to social media to name her alleged rapist, after several failed attempts to have the matter dealt with by authorities over two years.
The first detective told her the man was “just a kid who didn’t know how to have sex yet” and other investigators mishandled evidence, she claimed.
On the day Ingram posted a series of tweets, she hadn’t been planning to identify her alleged attacker until seconds before she did.
“It literally exploded from there,” Cohen said.
Ingram took part in Cohen’s story, who followed her as police interest in the complaint was reignited following the name and shame.
“They called her again and asked her to come in to give a statement,” Cohen said.
“It was the third…