ASKING FOR A FRIEND...
Posted on November 14 2019
The evening the #MeToo movement went viral on Facebook was an emotionally resonant and powerful one.
The number of women and girls posting the hashtag to their wall was startling to much of the male populace. This goes to show how lax education for men on topics like sexual assault and harassment is.
A male friend of mine was reading the more detailed posts--the posts with women sharing their personal stories and experiences with sexual violence.
He expressed shock at the number of friends who were victims of sexual assault and violence. At how many of their stories concluded with them not reporting the violation.
I asked myself how could he not know?! Most of the female population are victims of sexual harassment or assault at least once in their lifetime.
His primary question was, why his friends never reported their assaults? If you have a crime committed against you, it’s your right to report it! How were such injustices prevailing in the modern age?!
Ah, male privilege.
Stifling my impulse to lob a series of unprintable names at him, I chose to answer his question. He was a longtime friend whose questions were coming from a genuine place of shock and appall.
The answer was simple, in any case.
Why do so many women not report sexual assault?
My response was depressing in its simplicity.
Because we will be blamed for it.
I scoured internet forums everywhere for some lovely examples of victim-blaming.
So--asking for a friend--why is this still going on in 2019?
From the onset of puberty, women are trained to accept the burdens and consequences of sexual assault--the prevention of it in particular.
They are taught not be tempting by wearing distinct clothing in specific scenarios, keep in mind what time of day it is safer to venture out alone, never accept a drink from a stranger or leave your drink unattended.
Rather than pass out pamphlets and hold lectures discouraging men from becoming sexual predators, they teach women how not to appeal to the sexual predator or potential rapist.
This is why the resultant emotions of sexual assault can involve shame and self-blame as well as feelings of failure. The woman feels as if she failed in the prevention of something she has been taught to prevent since her preteen years.
In other instances, their attacker was someone they were close to and trusted for years and years. This leaves their victim in turmoil of trust betrayed in the most heinous fashion; along with the violation itself.
I gathered quotes as examples that express why victim-blaming can be so harmful.
In essence, the fight to end victim-blaming for sexual and domestic violence survivors is a fight to set a boundary in society. Survivors are letting us know, "Please stop doing this thing that is damaging to my healing process. Please stop, it's triggering my trauma, and makes me uncomfortable besides."
Victim blaming is a comfort for those who are convinced they’ve got the “How Not To Get Assaulted” playbook memorized. They’ll never be assaulted because they aren’t creating the situational opportunities for their victimization in the first place.
Perhaps victim-blaming is a useful tool for predators, or would-be predators to justify their past or future crimes to themselves and to others.
Boundaries are important and violation of these boundaries has consequences. The spark of humanity is at a flicker when it should be at a roaring blaze.
The truth of it all is the guilt and shame of acts of sexual assault and violence should lay squarely on the shoulders of the assailant, not the victim.
Predators deserve the self-punishment and the slander of character, not the victim.
Every person who has a crime committed against them should feel entitled to legal justice and retribution, not blame.