For many victims, the guilt, shame, and confusion of the experience is so overwhelming that in order to minimize the trauma, they take responsibility for the experience. Self-blaming is extremely common among rape victims for many reasons. It is easier for the survivor to take responsibility for the experience rather than to admit that they were powerless. There is also a wide held myth that if a person is unable to prevent a rape that they did not try hard enough.
“Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.”
― S. Kelley Harrell,
Here are a few classic self-blamimg lines:
- “I shouldn’t have been drinking”
- “I shouldn’t have worn that dress”
- “I shouldn’t have walked alone”
- “I shouldn’t have been out so late”
- “I should have left his house sooner”
- “I shouldn’t have gone on that date”
- “I should have screamed”
- “I should have fought harder”
and this list goes all the way back to the beginning of time.
This is the perfect pie chart for what actually causes rape:
Another story from a different friend:
It brings up so much emotion and makes me so angry how often sexual assault happens…. As I read the Brock Turner events, it made me realize that although I knew I was raped once, I was really raped two seperate times. I was so drunk and had been mixing Loritab pain killers from some girl at a party. I don’t even remember half of the party and didn’t even realize it had happened until I was told about it. I was told that there was a crack in the blinds, and that people were watching and then I had a slight flashback to it actually happening. My youth pastor found out and wanted to know his name to prosecute him. He was 18 and considered an adult. However, I felt it was my fault, and I still have a hard time calling it rape. I was awake for the assault, but I didn’t (and still don’t) remember much. I didn’t want my parents to find out, and I was so drunk/drugged that I just wanted to leave it alone.
It’s a sad world we live in…people taking things that don’t belong to them. Women feeling so much guilt for their own decisions and then fearing repercussions. Due to the fact that it wasn’t a violent rape, I still have a hard time even saying I was raped. It’s a culture out there, and it’s hard to deal with. I will raise my boys to know better. They will not contribute to this horrible stigma. It’s amazing how our minds go into such a protective mode that we can look at other’s stories from the outside, and it seems so outrageous. You think, “How could something like that happen? That poor woman” Then you realize…That woman is you. You’ve actually been through it…There’s just no news story about it, nor a criminal prosecution…
(more of her story below)
So in order to better understand rape, let’s discuss consent.
Here are some definitions of consent:
” RAPE AND CONSENT
If you did not consent to what happened verbally, clearly and without coercion then this is rape or sexual assault.
– Consent must be freely given without coercion or deception.
– Consent cannot be given when a person is underage, drunk, drugged or asleep. A person must have the freedom to make a choice
– Consent cannot be assumed – silence is not consent – no answer does not mean yes. Consent means making an active decision to say yes, an assumption of consent is not enough.
– Submission or compliance is not consent – giving into verbal/physical pressure or coercion is not the same as consenting freely to a sexual act.
– A person is entitled to withdraw their consent at any stage of a sexual act. If someone wants to stop and the other person does not stop, it is rape.
– Consenting to one type of sexual intimacy does not mean consent to any type of sexual intimacy. Just because a person has agreed to something does not mean they have agreed to everything.
– Consent is a verbal process – if someone is not sure if someone is consenting or not, they should ask. If a person can not get an answer, they should stop.
– Giving consent is active not passive, it means freely choosing to say yes.” pandy.org
(continued story from friend who shared above)
“The second time I was assaulted, it was actually someone I had known for years. We were going to a club, and I chose to drive up with a girlfriend of mine because I didn’t want to be with the guy by myself. At the end of the night, she and her boyfriend had a fight, and she left me to drive home with him. At the time, I had asked where she went and then told him I just didn’t want anything to happen because I wasn’t feeling well. Before I passed out on the car ride home, he specifically said “you know I’m not like that, and would never do anything like that.” We arrived back (apparently to his place), and he woke me up and offered his room to me. He said he’d sleep on the couch. I remember saying no, and that I would go to the couch…The next thing I remember was him between my legs and saying no and then passing out again. I woke up that morning and could not stop crying. He tried to call saying how he was sorry, and he didn’t think he did anything wrong, etc. I was damaged, and I knew it. The tears, emptiness, and shame were too much to bear, and I became an empty shell of a person for days and weeks. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I began to feel cherished and worthy again.”
Brock Turner’s survivor has used her experience to single-handedly give countless sexual violence victims a
voice– scratch that- a mega phone. She has drawn a line in the sand for all the world to see. Reminded us all that consent matters. Shown the world that rape should not be tolerated and has provided some much needed clarity in the hazy fog of what constitutes rape. I can assure you that many tears were spilled reading the letter written by Brock Turner’s survivor. These were tears of knowing. Knowing what it’s like to want to discard your own body. Knowing what it’s like to live on a different planet, deep in depression, and unable to shake the fear. Keeping the lights on and your guard up. Wondering all along- am I worth the fight for justice?
So from ALL us WOMEN back to you, our brave Stanford survivor, WE ARE WITH YOU ALSO.
You have lit a fire that cannot burn out. Sparked a flame of knowing our self-worth and power.
As she so eloquently said, “I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity. But it is also a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to. I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me. For now I am every woman.”
“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.”
If you have experienced sexual violence- I urge you to speak up, seek help, and know that you are not alone.
If someone comes to you with a story of assault, listen, don’t dismiss it.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE or chat online: https://centers.rainn.org