On sexual assault: stop blaming the victim

Dear Sherina,

As a student, I’m sure you’re familiar with the need to back up what you’re saying with evidence every time you write a paper. Fact check and then check again! While doing research on domestic violence last year, I came across a statistic I couldn’t ignore. 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime.

As if that wasn’t horrifying enough, over 80% of sex crime victims are women. And of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, 6 are reported to the police. After reading a 10 page report on such crimes, I felt utterly and completely defeated. How could this be happening in Canada – in my own backyard – and I had absolutely no idea.

I hoped that at the very least, the legal system would assist these victims in getting their perpetrators locked up. Perhaps this was a naive assumption, for less than half of complaints made to police result in criminal charges and, of those charges, only about one in four leads to a guilty verdict.

Furthermore, the blame for the rape is often placed on the victim, rather than the rapist. “Her skirt was too short” or “she shouldn’t have drank so much” are some of the most commonly heard accusations.

Let me be clear; telling the victim it was somehow their fault due to her level of intoxication or the length of her skirt is never okay. You cannot justify such a heinous crime against another human being. Period.

Let the phrase “she was asking for it” never be spoken again.

Ceanray

Dear Ceanray,

First of all: wow. Those are some horrifying statistics. I can’t get over the first one you mentioned; that one in four North American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I was once told that one in four people will be diagnosed with cancer. If this is true, then the assumption could be made that one is as likely to be sexually assaulted as have cancer.

I can’t wrap my head around this, because cancer is not something that can be prevented in the same way sexual assault can be. The problem is, as you mention, that the way some people are trying to prevent sexual assault is by placing blame on the victim. Instead of telling people not to dress provocatively, we should tell people not to sexually assault others.

Notice that in the last sentence, I didn’t say “instead of telling women not to dress provocatively, we should tell men not to sexually assault women.” Men can be victims of sexual assault too – and in order to put an end to all forms of sexual assault, this fact must be acknowledged.

You are completely correct in saying that it is never the victims fault. No one “asks” to be sexually assaulted, just like no one “asks” to be diagnosed with cancer. Part of not placing blame on the victim includes accepting their version of what happened to them; no matter what gender they are, and no matter what gender they say the person who assaulted them was.

This isn’t really about gender. At the end of the day, we’re all human; and, as you said, “You cannot justify such a heinous crime against another human being.”

Sherina

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13 thoughts on “On sexual assault: stop blaming the victim

  1. I agree. Sexual assault comes in many forms. It can be physical and verbal. I myself have never been a fan of the term Sexual Harassment. I think it is much deeper. It is an assault on women through verbiage.
    Take for example, my daughter and I had a mother/daughter night out on Saturday. She is your traditional soon to be 20 year old. She looked beautiful in her denim shorts and her Indie blouse. Her outfit would not be complete without the Texas traditional cowboy boots. I wore something more fitting for a mom who is 38 and some sandals.
    As we walked to our destination we couldn’t walk past a single Male figure who was not assaulting us with their words.
    We heard things from “Hey Momma, come sit on my face and show your daughter how it’s done.” to “Let me spread those long ivory legs of yours and give you piece of ecstasy’ as told to my daughter.
    We were disgusted! Yet, all along our walk all we heard from the females behind us was, “Well that’s what they get for wearing shit like that.”

    The victim shaming needs to stop. We need to start placing the blame where it belongs…on the Perpetrator.

    Great Article!! I look forward to reading some more of y’alls (It’s a Texan thing) work.

    Like

  2. Hey! This is a great post about a really relevant topic. I actually wrote a post about this topic, about a month ago. It’s called “A box of chocolates and a Bumper Sticker.” If anyone wants to check it out, it’s on my blog. Also, thank you for writing about something that seems to be getting shoved under the rug in today’s society. It’s really well written. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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