Blaming the Victim

By , Spokane, WA
I am one in four. One in four girls who has been sexually abused by the time they’re 18. I am one of over 208,000 victims of sexual assault each year. According to Washington State law, sexual assault is any non consensual sexual contact, including touching or fondling, indecent exposure, forced exposure, penetration, and nonphysical contact such as abusive phone calls. Sexual assault includes voyeurism, exhibitionism, incest, child molestation, and sexual harassment. Keep in mind that sexual assault happens to women as well as men, children, the elderly, and disabled. According to Washington State legislature, “Sexual assault has become one of the most rapidly increasing violent crimes over the last decade.”

Sexual assault victims are not strangers. We are your friends, relatives, and classmates. But we are often silent. 54% of sexual assaults are NOT reported to the police and only 3% of the ones reported lead to any amount of jail time for the offender. This is mainly because of blame. It starts with the offender. 84% of victims know their attacker and often trust them. So when the offender blames the victim, the victim begins to blame themselves, sometimes they live their whole life telling no one because they are so weighted down by guilt.

If the victim has the courage to speak up and tell someone, they always run the risk of being blamed by family and friends. Unlikely as it seems, even the best of friends can turn their backs and become friends with the offender instead. When abuse is in the family, it is often ignored.

Society blames victims as well. “What were you wearing? Were you flirting? Why did you go with him? Why didn’t you speak sooner? Why why why?” Society asks these questions, not realizing they shouldn’t be asked in the first place. There is absolutely no excuse for sexual assault. But it’s easy to blame from the outside, it’s easy to say “You had it coming,” even easier to brush it off with a “Boys will be boys.” However, that’s setting incredibly low expectations for men, and most of which would never violate a woman.

So why should boys get to be boys when 25% of girls spend their childhood in fear and pain? Victims of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. This is not just because they were assaulted; it is because they didn’t have a strong support system when they needed it most. Instead of being told it was absolutely NOT their fault, they are blamed over and over again by the ones they love and trust, re-traumatizing them along the way.

So now I ask you to be the army who suppresses the deception and destruction, I ask you to stop blaming the victim. Stop with the rape jokes, they are NOT funny. Do not tolerate insensitivity. If you know someone who’s been assaulted, listen, don’t judge. Make sure they know they have support. But most importantly, if you’re a victim, don’t stay silent. Get help. Wound’s that deep don’t heal quickly or easily. I would know. I am one in four.





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CyberLydii said...
Jun. 11, 2012 at 7:39 am
I really like this piece c: I am one in four :C My father, actually. he's still a free man, though he lost custody. *hug* Very well written.
 
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