Paige VanZant's horrifying rape revelation brings out the worst of the internet

I believe Paige VanZant.

I believe every sad, disgusting, horrifying word she wrote about being gang raped when she was 14 years old.

The UFC women’s strawweight fighter dropped the bombshell in her new book, “Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life,” which was released on Tuesday. In it, she describes being sexually assaulted by a group of boys at a party.

Born Paige Sletten, she legally changed her last name to VanZant in direct response to the rape. Boys at her school were calling her “Paige Slutton,” and of course that always brought the horrifying reminder of what had happened to her.

Since coming forward with her story, VanZant has received overwhelming support. But she has also been tagged as an opportunist, and far worse, by many commenters.

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UFC fighter Paige VanZant
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 12: Paige VanZant holds an open workout for fans and media at the Scottrade Center on January 12, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 14: (L-R) Paige VanZant punches Jessica-Rose Clark of Australia in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Scottrade Center on January 14, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 14: Paige VanZant prepares to enter the Octagon before facing Jessica-Rose Clark of Australia in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Scottrade Center on January 14, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 14: Paige VanZant enters the Octagon before facing Jessica-Rose Clark of Australia in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Scottrade Center on January 14, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 14: Paige VanZant receives advice from her corner in-between rounds while facing Jessica-Rose Clark of Australia in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Scottrade Center on January 14, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 14: Paige VanZant warms up backstage during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Scottrade Center on January 14, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: UFC women's flyweight Paige Vanzant interacts with fans during a Q&A session after the UFC Fight Night weigh-in inside The O2 Arena on March 16, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 12: Paige VanZant interacts with media after an open workout at the Scottrade Center on January 12, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 13: Paige VanZant poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in on January 13, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 14: Paige VanZant prepares to enter the Octagon before facing Jessica-Rose Clark of Australia in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Scottrade Center on January 14, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 17: Paige VanZant warms up backstage during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Golden 1 Center Arena on December 17, 2016 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 22: (L-R) UFC legend Urijah Faber and strawweight contender Paige VanZant pose for a photo during the UFC Fight Night event at Bridgestone Arena on April 22, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 17: Paige VanZant prepares to enter the Octagon during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Golden 1 Center Arena on December 17, 2016 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 17: Paige VanZant prepares to enter the Octagon during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Golden 1 Center Arena on December 17, 2016 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 17: (R-L) Michelle Waterson kicks Paige VanZant in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Golden 1 Center Arena on December 17, 2016 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 17: Paige VanZant stands in the Octagon before her women's strawweight bout against Michelle Waterson during the UFC Fight Night event inside the Golden 1 Center Arena on December 17, 2016 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 16: Paige VanZant poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in inside the Golden 1 Center Arena on December 16, 2016 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - AUGUST 27: Paige VanZant of the United States poses for a post fight portrait with her team backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at Rogers Arena on August 27, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - AUGUST 27: (R-L) Paige VanZant of the United States punches Bec Rawlings of Australia in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Rogers Arena on August 27, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Paige VanZant receives hair and makeup prior to the UFC 200 'Good Morning America' taping at the ABC Times Square Studios on April 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 22: Mark Ballas (L) and Paige VanZant pose for a portrait backstage during the UFC 197 weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 2201' - The celebrity cast of 'Dancing with the Stars' is lacing up their ballroom shoes for the opening sequence of season 22 in Los Angeles, California. The season premieres on MONDAY, MARCH 21 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Byron Cohen/ABC via Getty Images) DENNIS JAUCH, SHANNON HOLTZAPFFEL, PAIGE VANZANT, ALAN BERSTEN, KIRIL KULISH
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Just about the worst place in the world is the comments section on a website. There, with the anonymity the internet provides, people lay bare their worst instincts. Many commenters questioned the veracity of VanZant’s story, as if she, or any other woman, would willingly put themselves through the storm that is sure to follow such pronouncements.

There were many such comments below the news stories on the rape all over the internet.

Rape is not a crime of sex. It is a crime of power, a crime of domination, of control. Culture has for years made women who have been raped feel they had done something wrong, as if they’d somehow brought this horrible crime come upon them by something they did.

It’s traumatic and there is often no one for a woman to speak with, so she holds the awful memory in. It’s an awful thing to have to live with and it leads to many issues for the victims down the road.

According to a study, “The Mental Health Impact of Rape,” by Dr. Dean G. Kilpatrick of the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, many victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder after being raped.

Rape victims were 5.5 times more likely to have PTSD than those who had never been the victims of a crime, the study reported. “Almost one-third (31 percent) of all rape victims developed PTSD sometime during their lifetime; and more than one in 10 rape victims (11 percent) still have PTSD today,” according to the study.

A full third, or 33 percent, of rape victims admitted to having seriously thought of suicide. According to suicide.org, about 13 percent of rape victims attempt suicide, which can occur years after the rape.

Suicide.org also notes that 44 percent of rape victims are under the age of 18, like VanZant was; and that 66 percent of the rape victims know their assailants, like VanZant did.

And yet men embarrass themselves daily by having attitudes like these crass website commenters who show no human compassion or understanding of rape culture or of its emotional effects on victims.

Some of those who question VanZant’s integrity point to the length of time between the alleged crime and her reporting it publicly. Women are often afraid to come forward, knowing the reaction that is going to follow.

It would have been perfect if the 14-year-old Sletten had immediately gone to the police and done her best to preserve evidence so that the perpetrators had been arrested, convicted and sent to jail.

That she is coming forward now is bravely heroic, and should provide support to other women who, sadly, will find themselves the victim of a sexual assault at some point in the future.

Hopefully, by having heard from VanZant, or some other woman who has spoken out and lived through the storm, a future victim won’t develop PTSD or depression, won’t attempt suicide and won’t see herself as the one to blame for what happened.

Paige VanZant has been a hero to many for her exploits in the cage.

Never, though, did she stand taller than when she told her story in all of its horrifying and explicit detail. This narrative has to change. We need to stop questioning the victims and instead assail the perpetrators.

I believe Paige VanZant and I hope that she finally understands that she did nothing wrong. She has nothing to be sorry for, and she did the right thing by reporting it at a time that felt right for her.

It takes great courage and she should be commended, not condemned, for coming forward.

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