At this writing, Melissa Bruen’s article on the sexual assault she suffered during the U Conn Spring Weekend has received close to fifty comments on the Daily Campus website. (Free registration required.)

Of those comments, more than a dozen are flames. Some are critical of Bruen’s journalistic integrity. Others suggest that she invented the story of the assault. Several commenters insult Bruen’s appearance, or the clothes she wore in the photograph that accompanied the article.

It should be stressed that Bruen is characterized in third-party reporting as having been bruised in the attack. She describes the attack as having taken place in front of a large number of witnesses, and herself as having run from her attackers barefoot and screaming. She reported the assault to campus police while she was still on the scene. 

And yet she is accused by commenters of having made up the incident as a “cry for fame.” Her account is described as having troubling “loose ends.” One commenter who appears to believe her story refers to the assaults as “minor shenanigans.”

And then there are the insults. One commenter calls her a “fat ho,” another a “stupid BITCH.” The shirt she wears in the photograph is described as being “in very poor taste,” and her facial expression as “rediculous” (sic).

Most of the comments to the article are supportive, and many challenge the critics with cogent arguments. But the fact that Bruen was attacked so harshly serves as a reminder of the abuse that women who speak publicly about sexual violence face, and underscores Bruen’s courage in coming forward.