Just Another Kind of Victim-Blaming

I’m sick of people criticizing rape victims for not reporting their rape. I’m sick and tired of seeing it hashed out in the comments of supposedly “feminist” sites that the victim is somehow at fault or in the wrong for her failure to report her rape. There are so many reasons that rapes aren’t reported. Let’s take a look at mine, for example:

  • I was drunk. The sex began consensually. He was someone I had dated. If that isn’t the ideal situation for victim-blaming, I don’t know what is. If that isn’t a case that would get me laughed out of a police station, I don’t know what is. Where’s my evidence? It’s he said/she said, and you can sure as hell bet that there’d be all kinds of “character witnesses” up there calling me a slut.
  • Police don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to dealing with victims of sexual assault or rape cases.
  • Everyone deals with trauma in their own way. For some people, they need to forget it ever happened. For others, they need to take action. It’s not up to anyone else to criticize the way that a trauma victim deals with that trauma. And in my case, knowing that I didn’t *have* a case, I would have been even more depressed and humiliated if I’d tried to file charges, only to be told there was nothing they could do, or worse, be blamed for what happened to me.

And when someone says that it’s the victim’s fault if her rapist rapes someone else, because she didn’t report it? THAT’S BULLSHIT. That’s victim-blaming of another kind, because now you’re blaming a victim of rape for another person’s rape. If my rapist rapes someone else, that’s not on ME. That’s on HIM, because he’s the fucking rapist.

*I know I’ve used this photo before, but I found it fitting.

This entry was posted in Griping and Kvetching and Bitching, Rape Culture. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. JessNo Gravatar
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Truthfully? I understand that if a rapist assaults again, it’s only his fault, but I do think the most responsible thing to do is to prevent it from happening again, if possible.

    No one has the right to condemn a woman for choosing not to report a assault, because it’s impossible for anyone but her to know how to deal with it, but I do think that if she can handle reporting it, she really ought to.

    I don’t think it’s victim blaming to realize that if a known rapist is behind bars, he won’t be on the street raping women (prison rape is a whole other ball of wax). I wouldn’t say that any rapes that occur after she didn’t report are her own assault are her fault, but clearly, reporting it might prevent another rape.

    Imagine you witness a crime….someone breaking into your neighbor’s home, for example. You don’t report it (for whatever the reason – fear, disinterest, spite…whatever) and then the next day your home is broken into by the same person. Is there any regret for not reporting it? I know I would have regret.

  2. PandaDementiaNo Gravatar
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    While I can understand the point of this post and agree that victim blaming is NEVER okay, I read through ALL of the comments on the Jezebel post you linked to and did not see a single comment that blamed the victim for not reporting her rape. In fact, the Jezebel article wasn’t really about the girl’s rape but about her calling out alleged rapists of OTHER girls online. The criticism of this girl’s actions were based 1) on the fact that we don’t get any details as to what the girl did when she walked in the room to see the “rape” of the other girl and 2) commenters saw her outing the alleged rapists as “vigilante justice.” There was no one saying she was at fault for not reporting it, just questioning what she did to help the victim at the time.
    I just don’t see how the comments on that Jezebel post support your case in this instance.

    • Britni TheVadgeWigNo Gravatar
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      There was a lot of “she should have gone to the police” bullcrap. Not the same as on the first post I linked to at The Sexist, but still… that the authorities should have been involved, when, in reality, experiences with the authorities and rape are none too good.

  3. GrrlTragicNo Gravatar
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Aside from anything on Jez (which I find mostly abhorrent lately anyhow) I still agree wholeheartedly with your post. I was sixteen, he was 23, I was sick from an OD, he was a recent ex that I’d let crash on my couch until he got his welfare check, it was xmas eve, I had a police record, I was known in the system as a drunk, a delinquent minor and a troublemaker.

    They would have done nothing. In fact, I likely would have been arrested if I had reported it simply for being a juvie and being in that state to begin with. For eighteen years I’ve gotten that drone line from my friends and family alike: I should have reported it, I should have told someone, I might be responsible for the next five women he raped (and like me, also impregnated) and I don’t even know what I’m trying to say now aside from thank you.

    I don’t always agree with what you say here and I pretty much never comment, however this post really kicked me in the chest. Like hey, someone heard what I was sobbing on the inside, right? Just, yeah. Thanks.

  4. SkyddsDrakeNo Gravatar
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    I had slept with him before. Hel’s realm, I had slept with him many times. I slept with him the first night I met him. I didn’t want him over that night, though. I made it clear there wouldn’t be sex. He pushed and pushed until I gave in because I was worried about my dad (who was home at the time) hearing and either a) getting hurt, or b) killing the guy and going to jail. I wasn’t rational. I was scared. I pushed him away again and again, and it happened anyway because I wouldn’t say “no” out loud.

    I didn’t say “no” out loud.

    I didn’t think it was rape. I still wonder if it was rape. I didn’t contemplate the idea until months later, when I had already deleted all of his contact information and blocked every access he had to me and my person.

    How can I report something, no matter how afraid I am for others, when I’m not even clear what happened myself?

    • Britni TheVadgeWigNo Gravatar
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      You pushed him away “again and again.” It’s not my place to name what happened to you as rape or sexual assault. That’s for you to decide. However, it’s obviously still haunting you. Reality is in perception. Does that make sense?

      • SkyddsDrakeNo Gravatar
        Posted May 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Perfect sense. I’m just pointing out one more reason for not reporting. I have had others tell me that it was or wasn’t rape. The inconsistency just adds to the turmoil of the situation. I can’t speak for everyone, but that ambiguity, or lack of support, made it pretty clear to me that reporting was a non-option.

        Thank you for your response.

  5. Nell GwynneNo Gravatar
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Last week, in my Survey of Drama class, a classmate commented that Blanche, from “A Streetcar Named Desire” was obviously “asking for” Stanley to rape her. HOW THE FUCK IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER (and a very emotionally vulnerable one at that) ASKING TO BE RAPED?

    Gah. I hope my classmate can only hump a pillow for comfort.

    • Britni TheVadgeWigNo Gravatar
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Are you saying that (now, I don’t remember the play well enough, and would have to re-read it with the perspective and understanding I have now) a fictional character in a play/story can’t be raped.

      OOOHHHH. I think I’m reading this wrong. You’re saying that someone said that Blanche (fictional character) was “asking” to be raped by Stanley (fictional character), based on actions/dialogue/etc in the play?

      Sorry if I read the comment wrong!

      • GrrlTragicNo Gravatar
        Posted May 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        I get what Nell is saying, even fictional characters aren’t free from victim blaming any more than the rest of us. Its the rape culture, and no female, flesh or fiction, can escape the shame game..

  6. alanaNo Gravatar
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I agree completely. Maybe if there was a higher chance of conviction when victims do go to the police, the people making this argument would have a leg to stand on. But there’s not. And they don’t.

  7. EveNo Gravatar
    Posted May 8, 2010 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    I have no proof. It would be my word against his, and he’s very charismatic.

    Maybe if I had told somebody right when it happened it could have done some good, but by the time I was old enough to start to understand what it was that he did to me, years had passed.

    When I was 18 it did get reported for me by a therapist. The police were notified, Child Protective Services looked into it, and NOTHING happened except that he found out I’d talked. He still roams free, and tells everyone that I’m delusional and spiteful. When you see what good it does, what’s the point in reporting it? Especially if you didn’t have the forethought to collect DNA or photographic evidence when you were 11.

    If I had any chance of actually putting him in jail, I’d go to the police in a heartbeat. But I don’t live in that world.

    Great post. The photo is very powerful.

  8. BrigitNo Gravatar
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    The one that molested me as a young kid was my very conservative, Catholic, pediatrician uncle. It would be my word against his, and I love his wife, daughters and son. Mine is an extended family that can sometimes be very vicious, and I’ve been able to retain an almost perfect reputation within it (through a lot of work). If shit hits the fan I would most likely not return back to my home country. I refuse to have to spend the rest of my life outside it because this asshole abused me. I told my younger sisters when they were old enough so they would stay the fuck away from him. Last year both my parents found out and it honestly was one of the most painful chain of events of my adult life. I refuse to have that asshole fuck with my life some more so, no fucking way, I ain’t saying shit.

  9. tigermomNo Gravatar
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    thanks to all the brave sisters who have posted their personal pain here for everyone to see, so that i know i am not alone~thank you. i also appreciate the photo~it is exactly how i feel~i wonder how many millions of women over thousands of years have suffered at the hands of a family member or respected friend of the family and kept silent for your very reasons (love of other family members wishing to avoid causing pain but wanting and needing to protect the next generation of young women from this monster whom everyone else respects and trusts~and knowing in your heart that there is no way you were his first victim
    thank you to everyone who told your story here, so we can know the comfort of a sisterhood~a “family” of respect and trust to replace the one we never had at home

  10. tigermomNo Gravatar
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    btw~i love anthony bourdain and watch his travel show/foodie show No Reservations, i was watching a 2008 show on Romania (he eats peasant street food in every country and is guided by locals into trying authentic native dishes and is polite and respectfull and good humoured) he said to his Romanian guide while feasting on delicious street vendor fare “great world cuisine is created by non-consensual sex with invading armies” i was like WHAT did he just say? i have captions (CC) as i am hard of hearing, so when i saw his comment in type i knew i had heard right, i love fusion food and fresh food and authentic native fare as much as the next foodie, but the idea that harming women could result in yummy fusion foods~on what planet does Anthony Bourdain live~and does his MOTHER know what he said? wife? daughters? i’ll bet they would set him straight and “clean his clock” ~i have a facebook page that hundreds of ppl comment on each show, ill look to see if anyone else picked up that sentence in Romania and the reaction to it~

    • GaryNo Gravatar
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      While Bourdain might have said what you thought (and read) that he said, remember that generating the text for closed captioning is a very demanding job, and the people doing it don’t always get it right – he may have said something different and both you and the person making the text may have heard him wrong.
      Since cc is usually generated long after the show is taped, Bourdain may have no idea that someone thinks he said non-consensual sex makes great food.

      In a sense the statement wouldn’t be wrong, though – all cultures, and all that comes with them, are the result of waves of other cultures interacting with the pre-existing cultures in a region, adding their politics, religions and cuisine on top of what was there before, eventually resulting in a blend of old and new. For the lion’s share of history, those interactions have been far more like a brutal rape than a wedding proposal. Think of the Mongol invasion of India, or Alexander the Great in Asia Minor, or the Spaniards in Central America, or the Vikings in northwest Europe.

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  1. By Why Didn’t You Call the Police? on May 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    [...] to the post I wrote about not blaming victims of rape or sexual assault for not reporting it is this FANTASTIC post: [...]

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