Sexual assault traps Ke$ha and millions of others

Caleigh Stephens

In mid-February, despite numerous allegations of sexual assault by Sony music producer and alleged abuser Dr. Luke, a New York City judge refused pop star Ke$ha a preliminary injunction that would release from her contract.  Ke$ha appealed the dismissal of a preliminary injunction on Monday, but whether or not she will be successful is still up in the air.

The case began in Oct. 2014, when Ke$ha filed a civil lawsuit against Dr. Luke, alleging emotional abuse that led to the development of an eating disorder, as well as an instance of sexual assault.  Ke$ha described Dr. Luke giving her “sober pills” after coercing her into drinking, pills which were date rape drugs that allowed Dr. Luke to take Ke$ha to his hotel room and rape her.  According to the allegation, Ke$ha “took the pills and woke up the following afternoon, naked in Dr. Luke’s bed, sore and sick, with no memory of how she got there.”

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Ke$ha is locked into a six-album contract with Dr. Luke’s record label.  She faces the terrible choice of working for her alleged abuser or being unable to produce new music with a different producer.  Ke$ha’s lawyers argue that if she is unable to produce new music, she can’t tour and her career will suffer irreparable harm.

This case has brought sexual assault into the spotlight once more.  Unfortunately, Ke$ha is nowhere near alone in her struggle. According to the National Sexual Violence Center (NSVRC), one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.  While sexual assault may seem a distant issue, or at least one that is far from our community, it is one that is disturbingly prevalent even here at Redwood.  A recent Bark survey found that 37 percent of Redwood students know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault.  Another 12 percent of Redwood students overall, and 19 percent of seniors, are victims themselves. Sexual assault is disturbingly prevalent in our country and our community.

This issue cannot be ignored. I’ve seen friends and family members fall victim to sexual assault, and the emotional trauma it causes is indescribably devastating.  Sexual assault is not some benign crime that can be shrugged off, it is an act of violence that torments millions of people throughout their lives.

But, it is never the assaulter’s fault, and perpetrators of sexual violence are rarely brought to justice. We live in a victim-blaming environment in which abusers get off scot-free.  According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), a full 98 percent of rapists will never spend a day in prison.  Somehow it is always the victim’s fault for being raped.  Young girls are cautioned to “watch their drink” and not wear shorter dresses or they are “asking for it.”  The only way sexual assault can be prevented is not by policing the way girls dress, but by holding the perpetrators accountable. Ke$ha is a prime example of this mentality;  many people scrutinize her character, searching for some justification in her personality, despite the fact that no one ever deserves to be raped or is asking for it, no matter who they are.

Ke$ha’s credibility throughout the trial has been questioned, likely due to the pervasive idea that rape victims often lie about rape for personal gain; in Ke$ha’s case, the chance to get out of a contract.  Yet, statistics show that very few rape victims lie about being raped, with the NSVRC reporting that only 2 to 10 percent of rape cases are falsely reported.

While Ke$ha’s case is just one in a million, its high profile nature has the potential to set a precedent for future sexual assault cases.  If the case ends up in favor of Dr. Luke, it could further discourage victims from coming forward.  Already, rape is the most under-reported crime, according to the NSVRC. An estimated 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Only 12 percent of child sexual abuse and 10 percent of sexual assault cases on college campuses are reported, according to the NSVRC.  In the case that Dr. Luke ends up unpunished, it could suggest to victims that there is no point in coming forward.

Many celebrities have already proclaimed their support for Ke$ha, with Taylor Swift even going so far as to donate $250,000 to her.  If the outcry of support for Ke$ha is loud enough, perhaps public pressure on Sony will be enough to release Ke$ha from her contract.  We need to change the perception around sexual assault and set a precedent.

#FreeKe$ha and free the millions of other silent victims of sexual assault.