Outing a Rapist

You never know what to expect entering a school bathroom, but one of the last things I expected was to be told that my school had a rapist.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every two minutes, and an estimated 350 women per college campus of 10,000 students are victims of sexual assault each year. But there it was, a glaring reminder that rape is a part of college life. Attached to the trashcan for sanitary products was a sticker reading “USC Has A Rapist,” along with a Tumblr URL. A little startled, I took a picture with my phone before heading to class.

When I looked up the Tumblr on my laptop, I found Tucker Reed’s blog, “Covered in Band-Aids.” Reed is a University of Southern California alumna, comic-book lover and a woman who has outed her rapist. In February, she posted his full name and picture (alongside her own) on her Tumblr, as well as details of her rape.

The ethics of outing your rapist are murky, and those who have spoken up have often been silenced. In 2010, Chloe Rubenstein posted a note to her Facebook page naming two American University students as rapists and warning her friends to “stay away at all costs.” She removed her Facebook note a few days later and wrote that she was deleting it for legal reasons, ending her message with “No Fear. No Secrets. 2010.”

When she was 16 years old, Kentucky high school student Savannah Dietrich was sexually assaulted by two boys while she was passed out. After she took them to court, a judge said she was not allowed to talk about her assault or she would risk 180 days in prison and a $500 fine. Dietrich refused to comply with the judge’s order and tweeted out their names, saying “I’m not protecting anyone who made my life a living Hell.” She says she is glad she stood up for herself, and that she’ll never take the tweets down.

Then there’s University of North Carolina sophomore Landen Gambill, who, after speaking to the media about her complaint to the U.S. Department of Education regarding university treatment of her sexual assault, was told by UNC’s Honor Court that she could be expelled for “disruptive or intimidating behavior” towards another student (aka her rapist). And guess what? She had never even said his name.

Tucker Reed’s situation was complicated by the fact that her rapist was her boyfriend of two years. At first she tried to make sense of things, convincing herself that maybe he “loved [her] so much that he had to have [her],” but ultimately realizing that what she’d experienced was rape. She felt alone, Googling “dating your rapist” and coming up with no answers or advice. Now that she’s shared her story online, she says she gets daily messages from women and girls who’ve read her blog and “realized what happened to [her] happened to them.”

Reed is not the first woman to name her rapist in a public forum, and she’s also not the first to experience the backlash. “It was disappointing to see some people I had considered friends take sides,” she said. “I had one girl message me saying something like, ‘Look, we both know what really happened, Tucker. There’s a big difference between sex you regret and rape.’ I’d hung out with this girl, watched movies at her apartment. She was a self-identified feminist.”

The discussion on outing your rapist is a divisive one, but Reed has no regrets. In fact, she has strong words for those who believe she acted unethically: “The only ethical duty anyone had here to begin [with] was not to rape someone, and my attacker blew that. I would argue that my ethical obligation is to other women—to identify this individual for what he is.”

Feminist activist Jessica Valenti believes that speaking up about rape can be “straight up heroic.” As she wrote in The Nation, “Making the world more uncomfortable for rapists—letting them know that there will be consequences that include public shaming—is something I’m entirely at ease with.” Feminist writer Jill Filipovic agrees, saying that remaining silent “muzzles” rape victims by putting “[their] narrative in the hands of someone who presumably knows better.” In 2010, feminist writer Germaine Greer made loud and clear her wish for an “online rapists’ register” and suggested that sexual bullies should be ordered to wear “a t-shirt with the word rapist on it” as a community service.

Reed and her supporters (members of a sexual assault support and awareness group at USC)  have submitted a letter to the university requesting changes to the Student Conduct Code. They believe that the current wording on sexual misconduct contributes to decisions that ultimately lead to lenient consequences for students guilty of rape. Currently, despite having confessions from her rapist that she surreptitiously taped, Reed says she has been unable to press charges through USC’s Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.

Like others before her, Reed is “using her full name and attaching her accusations to her own face and reputation,” and she wants other rape victims to remember that they are not the ones at fault. “You don’t owe the boy who hurt you a single thing,” she said.  “You don’t owe him silence. If you feel you want the world to recognize that what happened to you was wrong, don’t let anyone try to talk you out of standing up and speaking out.”

Readers, what do you think about outing rapists?

Photo by Malia Schilling


  1. No longer afraid says:

    I was sexually assaulted in 1991 in Michigan. He was a football player at Albion College and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t blame myself for what happened anymore. I was a strong woman and happily engaged when he tried to take that all away. My story has a happy ending fortunately as I married my fiancé shortly after and we have an amazing family. We are finally ‘dealing’ with this and healing together after all these years but my rapist refuses to offer so much as an apology. HI am not ashamed, not afraid, and no longer hiding from the monster that you are…and yes, you are a monster.

  2. My professor at the University of Kansas sexually assaulted me when I was a graduate student. When I reported it, I was constantly blamed by KU for my professor’s actions and told that I wanted it. I protested on campus. I spoke his name publicly and KU responded by threatening my degree and accused me of false allegations and defamation. I was able to graduate, but my professor continues talking to his students about me and getting them to defend him in places like Student Senate. KU has constantly tried to silence me, but they’re supporting my abuser to continue defaming me.

  3. Just Figured It Out says:

    I know this is an old post, but I am practicing outing my rapist. I am 57 years old and just recently realized what happened to me 35 years ago. It took me that long to figure it out and now I am wondering if that incident has contributed to the failure of my romantic relationships. I can’t really go anywhere with this story because he died four years ago. I don’t know anyone that he knew in the last 30 years before his death.
    My rape story goes like this – He moved from the city where we both lived back to his parents house in a different state. He invited me over there and I went. One day while there, his mother was not home and his father was outside in the front of the house. I could see his head over the bushes in the front of the house. He was looking toward the street. My so-called boyfriend made a move toward me that indicated he wanted to have sex and started moving me toward the floor in front of the front door that his father was 3 feet away from. I said “NO not now. Your father is right outside. I can see him.” I tried to get away but he would not let me go. He was 6’4″ and strong and I could not get away. He forced me down and had sex with me while I laid there on the floor unable to do anything. When he was done, he quickly moved away from me and went into one of the bedrooms. I was so afraid his father would see us and completely dumbfounded that he would actually do such thing. Well, that was 1981 and a long time has passed. I was reading someone else’s story of rape and it sounded just like mine. I had to then compare my incident to the rape and realize it for what it is – rape. Forced and unwanted sex. I said “no”, tried to get away, and was forcibly held against my will. I don’t know why it took me 35 years to realize this. I knew that is was wrong and terrible, but I never gave it a label. Since I found out this summer that he died, I have been reliving all of my emotions from that time. I am not ready to post his name because he was well known in the well-known city he lived in for 30 years. Nobody would believe me and I don’t know if there is any point to exposing him. Except for revenge. Via Facebook posts, he received much praise and adulation about how wonderful he was, and such a good Christian, and emulated Jesus, and helped younger people with their careers, and their city would never be the same after he died. And he had a fiance that everyone felt sorry for. My guess is he never intended to marry her, since at age 59 he had never been married at all. My real reason for writing this is for healing and to identify with the people who have not reported their rapes to the authorities for fear of repercussions, or the people like me that take awhile to figure out what really happened. Peace and love to all who are in this situation. My journey has just begun with acceptance and forgiveness and I am not sure that will ever happen.

    • Out the bastard, if it makes you feel better. It’s like cleaning house. Anything that helps you heal is worthwhile. Who knows? Maybe he raped other women, too. I am contemplating outing someone who IS alive and I have a written confession from him. He talked his crime away as an act of love. Yuck. Why should he be protected while I spend my time in therapy trying to figure out what’s wrong with me? It figures that your rapist was religious, hiding behind “the cloth.” All the more I say, OUT HIM. I hate religious phonies.

  4. I don’t know what to do because my girlfriend of two months told me about multiple rapings by a friend of her own brother that he still sees. I want to make him pay but by the law she refuses to report him out of shame but I don’t want him to hurt anyone else. It’s been weeks and I cannot sleep or eat well and I’m angry because even after he hit her in the face the parents still allowed the bastard in the house. She was assaulted about twenty times when she was 13 or 14 years old by 17 year old monster at the time. I’m posting the name of the rapist as my profile name. Please any suggestions on how to go about it it happened about three years ago I believe but I’m scared to even talk about with her.

  5. MY son was raped by his father t the age of 7. No criminal charges were made because unless a perpetrator admits to raping a child or their is phisical evidence most cases of childhood rape go on unpunished. Im starting a Face book page WASAP one of my goals it to have a place were we can speack up and give put the info of the rapists that go on unpunished by the justice system.

  6. I know this is an old post, but I urge everyone to sign up for Garbo.io – a searchable database of people and companies accused of sexual harassment. They haven’t launched yet, but I encourage you to tell your stories.

  7. Pamela Gossett says:

    I just found out that I can’t press on my childhood rapest . Devastated news for me.

  8. Bernadette says:

    There should be a local place to list the names of rapists- warn others and give some insight to these scumbags. My daughter was recently raped by a 20 year old who lied about his age, took her out and raped her- Tahj Hendrix, form Mesa AZ and CA. Everyone should know his name, find him when they google him and know to stay away!

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