On March 29th, 2019, University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson was pronounced missing. While standing outside of a bar in Columbia, SC, Josephson got into a black car that she believed to be her Uber. 14 hours later, her body was found 90 miles away in a field in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Her cause of death was multiple sharp force injuries. Though her killer was quickly identified, there are still so many unanswered questions and open wounds.
This horrific event elicited fear in many, but especially in young women. Though this event was absolutely terrible, it is not surprising. These kinds of attacks against innocent and helpless women are nothing new, and they are occurring at horrifying rates. (You can read more about gender violence here.) Still, many onlookers decide to add their two cents, commenting: “Maybe if her friends hadn’t left her, she would still be alive.” “She shouldn’t have been drinking so much.” “She shouldn’t have been standing outside alone late at night.” Or, worst of all, “Maybe if she paid attention to the details of the car that Uber provided, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Not only are these comments extremely hurtful, they contribute to a horrible societal practice: blaming victims. Did she deserve to die because she was standing outside alone? Did she deserve to die because she got into the wrong car? Are these the reasons that she died?
No. Samantha Josephson died that night because a sick and twisted individual took advantage of her and brutally murdered her. And that is the reality that many hate to face: she did not deserve to die. She is not responsible. There is only one person at fault here, and it is her killer. If you believe otherwise, you are perpetuating gendered-violence and rape culture.
In times like these, it is crucial that we shift the blame from the victim to the attacker. Let’s use these types of tragedies to fuel movements: let’s talk about why these tragedies keep happening. Let’s talk about the fact that 19.3 million women will be stalked in their lifetime in the United States. Let’s talk about why women are being assaulted, harassed, and murdered by men at astronomical rates. Let’s get the conversation going: for Samantha, for me, for the women in this world who’s deaths can be prevented only if we stop blaming the victims.
She was not “someones sister, friend, daughter, cousin, loved one.” She was someone. And she did not deserve what happened to her.