Every time a discussion starts about the downfall of Hollywood and political elites due to sexual assault and harassment I hear at least one person blame the victim or flat out call them a liar. The most common victim-blaming comment I hear is “Why didn’t they say something years ago when it happened?”. Many assume that just because it wasn’t immediately reported the victim must be lying or making it up for their own benefit.
Victim blaming is placing any amount of responsibility or blame, no matter how big or small, for the sexual assault on the victim. Women can be blamed in many ways including being asked what they were wearing at the time, were they drinking or did they fight back. This sends the message that the victim could have avoided the rape. 63% of sexual assaults are not reported and if it is reported there is a 50% chance of an arrest. When women are sexually assaulted they have to stop and ask themselves;
Who’s going 2 believe you? ( few) What r the repercussions?(many) Do u want 2 work again? (Yes) R you prepared 2b ostracized?(No)(11/cont.)
— terrycrews (@terrycrews) October 10, 2017
Who’s going to believe you?“
“What are the repercussions?“
“Do you want to work again?”
“Are you prepared to be ostracized?”
Reporting sexual assault is never an easy decision. Majority of the time sexual violence comes from men we know, men we need, men we respect and men we love. That’s how they get it away with it. Other times, this violence comes from an individual who holds the fate of your career in their hands. It’s already hard enough to climb the ranks as a woman.
Victim blaming is dangerous because it creates a cycle where women either do not feel safe reporting or they think that no one will believe them. Even worse, it stops women from reporting in order to avoid the shame of other people putting the blame on them. When abusers are not called out for their actions they start to believe what they are doing is ok and will continue to abuse women.
Teaching boys/men to take responsibility for their actions is a great way to combat victim blaming and the lack of reporting of sexual violence. It is important to teach young boys that violence is not okay and there are other ways to deal with anger. We must also support women as they share the worst experiences of their lives. It’s time we teach men not to rape instead of teaching women how to avoid rape.
Interested in learning more about society’s take on victims of domestic violence? Read up on the Normalization of Sexual Violence Through Rape Culture.