There are two heartbreaking stories out of the United States in the past few weeks. The first is the story of Adriana Kuch, a New Jersey teenager who ended her life after a video of her being attacked circulated online.

The second is the story of Madison Brooks, a Louisiana State University student who died after being hit by a car. Brooks met four men in Reggie’s Bar in Baton Rouge on 15 January. Investigators say the suspects raped her in a car and then abandoned her on a dark road where she was struck and killed by a car.

What connects these stories is the predictable victim blaming of both victims by people who should know better. In Adriana’s case, the superintendent of a New Jersey school district resigned after he pinned the blame of her suicide on her history of being bullied at school, her difficult family situation and her alleged history of drug use.

In the Madison Brooks case, attorneys for Casen Carver, 18, Kaivon Deondre Washington, 18, Everett Lee, 28, and the unnamed fourth suspect, 17, held a press conference saying Brooks “wouldn’t have complained” about being raped “if she was alive”.

Kerry Miller, an attorney representing Brooks’ family, slammed the comment: “I was blown away by that comment. I mean their clients gave sworn statements that they raped a young girl who was intoxicated.”

He added: “She was raped. Rape is rape.”

It’s heartbreaking to see that even in death, victims get blamed like this.

Adriana Kuch

Adriana Kuch, 14, died by suicide in her Bayville, New Jersey, home on February 3, two days after a disturbing video of her being assaulted at Central Regional High School was posted online.

Madison Brooks

According to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Madison Brooks, 19, was raped while heavily intoxicated before being dropped off in a subdivision where she was hit and killed by a car in the early morning hours of January 16, 2023.