***Trigger Warning*** – The following post discusses rape and sexual assault within the context of victim blaming.
As we approach our annual Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night events, it is important that we take a moment to think about how we respond to victims of sexual assault. Victim blaming is used as a tool to silence women especially and minimize the seriousness of rape and sexual assault.
It also functions to remove our focus from the perpetrators actions and place it squarely on the actions of the victim. As victim blaming is sewn into the fabric of rape culture, many of us participate in the practice unintentionally or unconsciously. But this does not make it any less harmful.
Below are ten examples of victim blaming often heard on college campuses. I use ‘she’ in most of these examples because women are overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of sexual assault, but it is important to recognize that men can also be victimized and victim blamed when reporting their assaults.
1. She shouldn’t have been wearing (insert clothing item here).
2. She could have just said ‘NO’.
3. If she wasn’t drinking so much, she never would have been in that situation.
4. She was asking for it.
5. She shouldn’t have lead him on.
6. It isn’t rape, just because you regret it/just because you’re embarrassed.
7. Why would you want to ruin their life by reporting them?
8. She shouldn’t have been walking alone/out so late.
9. It’s not like you tried to fight him off.
10. I know him, he wouldn’t do something like that.
Notice that all of these examples are centered on the behavior of the victim. We should support victims and survivors at all times, not question their behavior, dress or attitude leading up to their assault or the decisions they make following. This language is far too common and it is time we challenge and change the way we respond to sexual violence as a society.