Sixteen-year-old Jada endured two assaults. The Houston teenager was allegedly drugged and raped at a party last month. Then last week photos of the assault went viral—which is the only way she found out about her rape. People mimicked her on social media with the hashtag #jadapose, posing like unconscious, barely clothed rape victims. (Most of the photos have been reported and taken down.)
Her story is sickeningly common: The alleged assault happened at a high school house party, where she was offered a drink, possibly laced with a drug. She woke up hours later, underwear on backwards. Then her story gets unusual: She became an unwilling celebrity when photos of her unconscious body emerged on social media, initially Tweeted by her accused assailants.
But instead of running scared, Jada fought back. And that’s when her story becomes amazing. She harnessed social media to reclaim her voice, Tweeting this searing image:
#Jadapose was drowned out by the outrage of thousands, who Tweeted their solidarity. If any good can come of her ordeal, it’s that Jada has become a role model for other survivors and supporters.
And Jada didn’t stop there. She went on national television to tell her story. “Everybody had seen my face and my body, but that’s not what I am or who I am,” she said.
Jada took control. She refused to hide. She refused to succumb to the shaming culture of silence. In doing so, she became more than a survivor—she became a symbol of resilience and bravery. After going public with her outrage and her image, here’s how the Twitter story changed:
Sharing her truth in the face of so much ugliness, the world would be a better place with more Jadas in it. #iamjada
— MakeHerWay (@MakeHerWay) July 20, 2014
— Ashley (@IAmAMoni) July 14, 2014
Why is Sexual Assault the only crime where the victim is blamed, shamed, bullied, harassed, and laughed at? #IamJada
— Stephanie Bridges (@i_spat) July 14, 2014
— Mera Corlett (@mscorlett) July 14, 2014
Social media can be frightening and lawless, but it can also be a source of tremendous support. Jada got the last word.
Now we know the #Jadapose is one of confidence and strength.
As for Jada? Even though her example will go on to inspire thousands of other survivors, this moment won’t define her. As she told MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow, she plans to work in a crime lab one day.