Victim Blaming

I was talking with someone from high school that actually used to be a very good friends. We hung out all the time, and I took his virginity our senior year. We were talking about stuff and I mentioned having a rough few months, as was he. He asked if I knew of any therapists in the area, and I sent him some resources mentioning that I was looking for one, too. He probed a little, and it came out that I had been trying to cope with the aftermath of being raped by myself for about 6 months now, but it was no longer enough and I needed to try something else. The following conversation then ensued (my comments and ranting are in italicized brackets):

Him: did you report it?
Me: no. we were drunk. we had dated. it was he said she said. just not worth it to me
Him: so it wasn’t a rape
Me: what? no, it was a rape. but it would have been my word vs his. i didn’t have a strong enough case for me to justify reporting it.
Him: thats what a rape is. i mean, i feel bad saying it, but it wasn’t based off of your description
Me: how was it not? because we were drunk? and because we had previously dated? when i say no, and someone holds me down and forces themselves on me, despite trying to get away and telling them to stop, thats rape
Him: no. your statements makes it sound like you let it happen [Oh, look. Classic victim blaming. Right, I *let* myself be raped. Of course! Being raped sounds TOTALLY pleasant. Let me let *that* happen to me!]
Me: are you fucking kidding me? i didn’t let it happen. i tried as hard as i could to stop it. and he just growled “i’m going to fuck you whether you want it or not”. so… um, yeah. rape
Him: hmmmm. see what if he thought it was a role play? [There must be a reason! People don't rape for no reason!]
Me: he didn’t. we NEVER role played. we never even had rough sex. he never wanted to
Him: so what drove him to something like this? with no prior history? there must be some cause [Yup, there MUST be some cause! What could *I* have possibly done to MAKE HIM do this to me? Let's try and figure this out!]
Me: so, it must be my fault?
Him: not saying it was your fault. [Yes, yes you are.] just wondering what the cause was. so with no prior history of rough or explicit sexual acts why did he randomly act like that?
Me: because he wanted what he wanted. and i said no.
Him: have you ever restricted him from sex before [Oh, because if I've never turned him down before and now I did, he must not have know that I really meant no. He must have assumed he could force himself on me anyway!]
Me: no. we were dating. we weren’t dating anymore when i went over there. we had stopped seeing each other like a week before that. i had limits that he respected because we were dating and i thought he respected me
Him: ahhhh. it all makes sense. not saying it was right, but you are def at some fault [WHAT. THE. FUCK. It "all makes sense"? THIS is an understandable reason to rape someone?]
Me: excuse me? i said no, that should have stopped it right there
Him: of course, however, he was drunk. not saying it was right at all, but you can’t say there was no fault of yours [Ah, he was drunk! That totally excuses his actions!]

This is classic victim blaming. The victim must have done something to provoke the attack. She must have been teasing him/upset him/been wearing provocative clothing/been drunk. She must have been asking for it. God forbid we actually blame THE PERPETRATOR of the fucking rape. It is NEVER the victim’s fault. Even if she was teasing him/upsetting him/wearing provocative clothing/drunk, that is NOT AN ACCEPTABLE REASON TO RAPE HER. EVER.
It wasn’t my fault. Got that, dude? NOT. MY. FAULT. Stop blaming the fucking victim.
This entry was posted in Caterwauling About The Patriarchy, Griping and Kvetching and Bitching, Rape Culture, With A Little Help From My Friends and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Meg
    Posted May 25, 2009 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    What an ass! No means no, end of story.

    I hope you find someone to talk to, Britni. I hope you can find someone to help you work through this. I'll be sending good vibes.

  2. Welcome to Chicago, Jillinois
    Posted May 25, 2009 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    "It is NEVER the victim's fault. Even if she was teasing him/upsetting him/wearing provocative clothing/drunk, that is NOT AN ACCEPTABLE REASON TO RAPE HER. EVER."

    If someone says no, as you have described, and the person keeps going, yes, it is absolutely rape.

    But I am not comfortable with this "It is ALWAYS rape no matter what" vibe that has been going around (Jez) lately. Often not everything falls into two neat categories; black or white; rape or not. While it may not be the victim's "fault," as responsible adults we can take responsibility for our own actions that may put us into danger. If I was walking down a dark street in a bad part of town at 1 AM, it would definitely not be my fault if I was mugged. However it was foolish of me to be walking down that part of town at 1 AM. Both women and men should be smart and responsible with their choices so to avoid bad shit as much as possible.

  3. sqweakygurl
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Umm.. Okay, what the fuck?
    His statements toward you must not have been thought out all the way, because the last time i checked rape was rape from every angle you look at, however Grey it may look from someone else perspective it is what it is. If you said no and he said i don't care. It’s one sided sex homes and that shit’s not okay.

    I commend you for your courage and talking openly about your experience. I hope you can stay strong through all the bad shit life tends to throw at us.
    ** sends good vibes **

  4. Red
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I'd say this guy def. needs therapy…and some Women & Gender Studies classes. What a shit for brains.

    It was not your fault. Not at all. I do think you had enough to report him though, but I understand why you didn't.

    Never talk to this douche again!

  5. Eve
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Wait a minute. He says it was your fault because he was drunk?!? How is his drunkenness your responsibility? You fought and said "no" and he still says it's your fault? I REALLY don't get it. There is NO amount of logic that can change the reality that it was rape, and it was entirely the fault of the rapist. What the fuck?!?!

    Victim blame makes me REALLY angry. I want to scream at that guy. I don't know if it's ingorance, stupidity, or heartlessness, but how can any reasonable person distort something that drastically? I just can't understand it. Gods, I want to cry!

    Also, I understand why you didn't report it. It's the same reason I didn't report my dad's sexual abuse. Good for you for standing up for yourself! And best of luck finding a therapist. If you find a good one, it can be SUCH a big help!

  6. Apollo Unchained
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Yuh, I'm with everyone else who's commented so far. "no means no". Everyone knows that. If they choose to cross that line, being drunk is no excuse. Give me a break.

    Of course in Saudi you'd already be in so much trouble they'd probably give him a medal …

  7. breakingblues
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    This may not work, but if he ever tries to say "it's not rape" again, ask him this. "So friend, say you go over to someone's house.There's alcohol. While you're drunk, they decide they'd like to give it to you up the arse. That's totally cool, right?"

    That probably wouldn't work with him though, as someone with a penis sometimes fails to grasp what it's like to constantly have the threat of an unwanted penis hanging over you (I'm saying this badly). Hell, sometimes even people with vaginas don't get it. Life sucks. Could you at least call him and say "You sucked in bed!" then hang up?

  8. Britni TheVadgeWig
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    "But I am not comfortable with this "It is ALWAYS rape no matter what" vibe that has been going around (Jez) lately. Often not everything falls into two neat categories; black or white; rape or not. While it may not be the victim's "fault," as responsible adults we can take responsibility for our own actions that may put us into danger"

    Jill, it's this thinking that prevented me from reporting anything. I was having consensual sex with the man at the time. I was anally raped. I protested and said no as hard as I could, but he was much stronger than me. But is it more my fault because I already consented to the sex? At first, I thought it did. But it doesn't make what happened any more my fault. Whether I agreed to part or all of it, the fact that I said no at some point means that I tried to stop it. I can't blame myself for someone else forcing themselves on me.

    While I agree that sometimes we may put ourselves in danger, I do agree with the sentiment that no means no. The second someone says no, whether it's to a stranger, a partner, or someone in between, it means no. Just because we make a bad decision or put ourselves in a less than desirable situation in no way makes us responsible for someone else raping us.

  9. Curvaceous Dee
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    Are you not to blame. You have absolutely no responsibility for his decision to rape you. It was rape, he is a rapist.

    And your friend is an asshole.

    *big hugs* You are not to blame. But the society who thinks that victim-blaming is acceptable doesn't want to hear that…

    xx Dee

  10. champagneandbenzedrine
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    It's pretty cut and dried to me – a woman has the right, at any point, even during consensual sex, to say 'no' and the man has a responsibility to stop. End of story.

    The fact that you were having consensual sex (agreed upon) and he then tried to shove it in your ass (not agreed upon) makes it a pretty aggressive, premeditated action on his part.

    I think he was probably hepped up on bravado and the fantasy that women get hot for strong, aggressive men who 'take what they want' – but whichever way you look at it, he must be delusional or an idiot if he didn't realise what he was doing was wrong – even before he did it.

    I do strongly agree with what 'Welcome to Chicago' wrote about avoiding dangerous situations – we all have to take responsibility when we put ourselves in unsafe circumstances – but in this instance, you'd dated before, understandably presumed that he had a basic, human sense of respect for you and couldn't realistically have expected him to do something like this.

  11. Welcome to Chicago, Jillinois
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I should clarify: My comments were not directed at your particular situation, B. I meant to take the convo further, in a "what can we learn from this, how can we keep safe, both women from being raped, AND men from being accused of rape (the whole "rape without a rapist" concept). But I definitely do not want to be misread on your particular situation.

  12. Brilliance Proper
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Sorry so late on this but as a man I know what "no" means when a woman says it. Drunk or not, that shit is wrong. Period. Your "friend" has some issues when it comes to matters like this. I have a daughter and if I were to think that way then it would be similar to saying that in the same situation it wouldn't have been rape if someone did that to her. I think he needs to put that into perspective.

    It was NOT your fault.

  13. alana
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    I hate this sort of thing. This is the reason I didn’t report my rape either. I felt like it wasn’t really rape since I didn’t fight or get physically hurt (even though I would have told anyone else they had been raped). It took forever for me to understand that rape doesn’t don a single mask.

    I said no. He didn’t care. It was not consensual. Therefore it was rape. Period.

    It’s easy to vilify your friend in this situation, but he’s jus the product of our society. It’s disheartening when you’re reminded of that. (Though I did see “real men don’t rape…no means no” billboards before. While I think the whole “real men” part is questionable, I think it’s a great idea.)

  14. PrettyPrettyPrincess
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    This man is horrifically ignorant. It is very frustrating and exhausting to try and have a conversation with someone who is constantly looking to justify the agressor's behavior, no matter how convoluted they have to get. I've often wondered WHY some men think this way about rape and I think it's because they picture themself in the other man's shoes, and they know THEY would not rape someone, therefore it must not have been rape (if the other guy seems like a remotely normal person). I don't know if I am saying that very well but for whatever reason these men who victim blame are overly identifying with the rapist and trying to exonerate him. It is twisted and I don't know if it is even possible to get them to identify, instead, with the victim, or to see it objectively.

    And no what happened to you was NOT IN ANY WAY YOUR FAULT. For fuck's sake. I'm sorry you keep having to deal with this and with people being assholes to you about it.

  15. Lisa
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    No. You said no, and he failed to respect that….which does make it rape. However, I expect (which is different from condone) that kind of behaviour from men.

    Here's my take, though—and I'm a good deal older than you, so take this as advice from grandmom, if you like—the world is NOT a safe place. You and you alone are responsible for your safety. It is NO ONE ELSE's responsibility to keep you safe, and you must do what is necessary to ensure that.

    This might include giving up some of the seriously harmful habits that you blog about—-heavy or binge drinking, casual sex (hey, I like it too, but I carry wherever I go), men who like to abuse you and who leave bruises on you……because, Britni, you are very very young to have abused yourself so badly.

    You are a wonderful person, and I really hope you survive in better shape than I did.

  16. Britni TheVadgeWig
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Lisa, the bruises that I let men leave on me physically are consensual and desired bruises. I happen to like rough sex, and that gets me off. The emotional bruises are another story, but the physical ones are most definitely consensual and desired on my part.

  17. {{ d a n i m o }}
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    i'm just. . . agape over here. . . reading line after line in abject horror.

    you fought against being held down, said no, asked him to stop, and tried to get away, therefore it was your fault? there wasn't enough evidence to convict him, therefore it was your fault? he was acting uncharacteristically, therefore it was your fault? he had dated you previously and clearly thought he could have you whenever he wanted, therefore it was your fault? he was drunk, therefore it was your fault? y'know, he sounds like a real catch so let's continue defending him for a while. *rolls her eyes completely out of their sockets*

    i'm sorry but this child sounds like a downright ass. an ignorant, unaware ASS. to be honest, with the mountains of excuses he's making for someone he doesn't even know, it almost sounds like he may have raped before. i would recommend staying as far the fuck away from his as possible.

    i'm still coming to terms with sexual assault of my own and i don't quite know how to put my empathy into words. but i'm glad you're informed and intelligent enough to know you are not AT ALL to blame here.

  18. {{ d a n i m o }}
    Posted May 28, 2009 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    and to champagne, i couldn't have said it better myself. except that *ANYONE* can be raped by *ANYONE* regardless of gender. i'd offer something as an example but unfortunately, the only documentary i've ever seen about female-female rape is so sub-standard i can't bring myself to recommend it to anyone.

    but i can say that, statistically, one reason that same-sex rape is *SO* under-reported (officially) is because some victims report feeling like publicizing such an atrocity on themselves would take the queer rights movement a step backwards. female-perpetrated heterosexual rape often goes unreported because, sadly, we live in a world where sometimes it feels easier for a man to live with his atrocities privately and avoid the inevitable barrage of criticisms against his masculinity and the validity of his experiences (due to the legal definition of rape, at least in the united states, as an act a man commits on a woman).

  19. Epiphora
    Posted December 28, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Ew. Just ew.

    What's kind of horrifying is that this conversation is, in a way, similar to a rape situation. You keep saying one thing ("uh, it was rape and here's why") and the dude just keeps badgering on. Kind-of terrifying, actually.

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