In 2008 a 16-year-old high school cheerleader, identified as H.S., was sexually assaulted by three men at her school, one of whom, Rakheem Bolton, was a basketball player. Although Bolton received a year long prison sentence as well as a fine and two years of probation, throughout these past few years there was much debate about what type of punishment he should receive. At one point he was even allowed back into Silsbee high school and and allowed to take up his old position on the basket ball team.
H.S. refused to cheer for Bolton during his free throws. According to Ms. Magazine, the chant that she was expected to yell was, “two, four, six, eight, ten come on Rakheem put it in!” Instead of supporting or understanding H.S’s decision, the school kicked her off of the cheer leading squad effectively condoning Bolton’s actions and placing blame on the victim. When her parents filed a law suit against the school, not only did they lose the case, but the school is making them cover the trial costs which add up to $35,000.
When Artist Jason Ho heard about this injustice, he decided to do something about it. Ho is an illustrator and art director at Bongo Comics who has a blog called “Oh Snap! The Friggin Amazing J. Ho Sketch Blog…” He posted the story on his blog and sent out the word that he would hand draw sketches for people in trade for a $20 donation. The donation would go to H.S’s family to aid with the legal expenses.
The response was overwhelming. He planned on taking 20 requests, but within a matter of days had over 140! Ho epitomizes supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. He has never met this family before, and he is not rushing out to Texas to rally protesters; he is simply doing what is within his reach to help a family in need.
People like Jason Ho are a dose of encouragement and optimism for anyone who has ever felt strongly about a cause but did not know what to do. He shows us that anyone can make a difference, and that one person’s idea can help change lives. Ho in partnership with the Help a Cheerleader site have managed to change H.S.’s life as well as her families, not just with the financial support, but also with psychological support. This family has the comfort of knowing that people all around the country believe that they were wronged by the justice system, and are willing to help them through their struggle.
If you want more information about how you can be an active bystander or how to support victims of interpersonal violence please contact the Family Violence Prevention Center at (919) 929-7122. We can all be active bystanders in our own unique ways and one persons’ actions can play a huge part in supporting and advocating for survivors and in ending interpersonal violence.