When someone has their wallet taken we don’t ask why they were out so late. We don't ask if they’d been drinking or if they were wearing something that ‘showed off their wallet’.
And we don’t tell them NOT to press charges because the criminal is ‘basically a good person who just made a mistake, and this could really harm their future …'
We don’t treat people this way when they’re robbed because it would be ridiculous and unfair. So, why do we do it when people are sexually assaulted?
Why do so many people question what the person who’s been assaulted was doing - instead of questioning WHYTHEHELL the assaulter did all the assaulting in the first place?!?!
Sh!t we need to stop saying when someone is assaulted:
"What were they wearing?"
"Had they been drinking?"
"Why were they out so late anyway?"
"Had they hooked up before? "
Why? Because concentrating on victims’ circumstances suggests they should have changed their behaviour, that they could have avoided it if they’d been more careful. This is when we start to shift blame from the perpetrator – who is the ONLY guilty person here!
Of course we all take precautions for our personal safety - but it's too easy to think we're only concerned for people's saftey when we're actually shifting our attention from the problem - perpetrators - and instead telling victims, "You did the wrong thing by... [doing that/going there/wearing that, etc]"
Gender stereotypes and sexism are related to violence
From a young age, we’re shown unhealthy and outdated stereotypes of men as sexually dominant and aggressive who can’t control their urges; while women and girls are made out to be submissive and weak, and told not to be too ‘sexual’ in case they give men ‘the wrong idea’.
The good news is we can change these worrying attitudes and behaviours – but we have to stop making excuses for perpetrators and potential perpetrators, and call out disrespectful victim-blaming attitudes.
‘Innocent until proven guilty’
Nobody’s saying everyone accused of a crime is automatically guilty, but you can avoid judging one person in a situation, while still supporting the other. It’s also not your job to make a judgement – unless you’re a jury member! This is about you believing someone who says they’ve been sexually assaulted, in the same way you would believe someone who says they’ve been robbed.
Obviously, the experience of having a wallet stolen can barely be compared to that of sexual assault. The analogy just shows the serious problems in our attitudes when we question and blame survivors of sexual assault and make them ‘prove their innocence’.
When a wallet is stolen, we support the victim, and question the perpetrator.
It’s time we applied the same logic to sexual assault.