Victim Blaming: Frequently Asked Questions

So, your favourite actor, comedian or TV star has just been accused of rape or sexual abuse and you’re probably thinking: gosh, I really like that person that I’ve never met in real life, how can I justify continuing to bolster this celebrity?

Look no further! Below is a guide to help you determine exactly when and how you can blame a victim!

Q: How do I know when I can blame a victim for getting raped?

A: Short answer: Never. Please note that the person who raped the other person is always the one at fault.

Q: What if their outfit said they were “asking for it”? 

A: Personally, when I’m shopping I tend to stay away from the “come and get it” section mostly because it doesn’t exist. There is a difference between dressing up to look hot and dressing up to be attacked. No one does the latter.

Q: If they were drunk or drinking, can I bring this piece of information to the table?

A: You could… but it’s irrelevant. It’s a social norm to drink alcohol but that doesn’t justify someone taking advantage of a drunk person to satisfy their own means.

Q: If it happened 10+ years ago, can I advise that the victim of the abuse is a part of the problem for not coming forward sooner?

A: No. The problem begins and ends with one person abusing, taking advantage of, or raping another person.

Q: Should I point out that people coming forward many years after the incident are probably just looking for their 15 minutes?

A: Personally, I don’t know a lot about fame but I think I can safely say that no one, man or woman, wants to be famous for being abused and or raped. No one dreamt of the day their sexual exploits would be publicised, criticised, and eventually dismissed as ‘attention seeking’.

“So tell us! When did you get your first big break?”

“Well I guess it was the day I decided to come forward about being raped! I just couldn’t believe the offers that flooded in after that! I’ve just finished a season of Dancing with the Stars and ABC have just picked up my new pilot!” – says no one, ever.

Q: Okay, well then can I point out that they are probably just in it for the money?

A: What money? Why are people always bringing up the money? Is there a prize that victims of abuse are collecting from the police station when they stroll in to report a crime? Is there a sign at the entrance that states “report your rape and go into the draw to win!”? Collect your $200 dollars when someone bypasses you saying “no.” Is Mark Zuckerberg popping a couple of grand into people’s bank accounts when they recount their stories on Facebook? Is there a government incentive that people can apply for during tax time? “Please indicate below if you were a victim of sexual abuse over the duration of the previous 12 months” Are all sexually abused victims rich now? What money?

Q: Can I point out that they should have known what was about to happen when they walked into a hotel room with another person who was renowned for being a predator?

A: While it’s a general rule for the women in my social group to be cautious when they are out in society, letting friends know when they are in taxis, holding their keys between their fingers as a weapon while walking to their car at night, keeping an eye on anyone walking in their direction, et cetera, that doesn’t usually extend to holding a canister of pepper spray in their palm when entering a business meeting.

Q: As a [insert number here]-year-old, shouldn’t they have known better?

A: Can you give that some context?

Q: So, a 15-year-old is being chatted up by a guy, he is 24, she should know what his intentions are right? And if she isn’t into it, maybe she shouldn’t engage in conversation to begin with?

A: So what you’re saying is, women and men shouldn’t speak to each other unless they are both 100% down with having sex? The bigger question, in my opinion, is ‘why is a 24-year-old dude chatting up a 15-year-old girl?’ That seems pretty seedy to be honest. Why isn’t he chatting with women his own age that he has things in common with I.e. being an adult?

Why is she the one who should know better? He is an adult man at this stage. He has graduated from school and possibly college, he can drive and drink and vote. A 15-year-old is driven by hormones, a desire to be seen AND not seen and is desperately seeking their place in the world. An older dude starts chatting her up? Of course she is flattered and maybe even a little validated, but is she ready to have sex with a man in his twenties? No.

As someone who has been in a similar position, I look back on those flirtations with older guys and feel no validation or warmth. Instead, I feel confused as to why they wanted to talk to me to begin with. I know I’m cool, but as a 27-year-old, if I had to converse with someone eight or nine years younger than me, I wouldn’t have a fucking clue as to what that conversation might be.

Q: When I was 15, I was ready to have sex. Why is everyone acting like it’s too young?

A: That’s wonderful for you. However, there are some people in the world who think they are ready for sex and then… spoiler alert: they aren’t.

Not everyone moves at the same pace through life, no one should be congratulated or ridiculed for the pace that they choose.

You don’t know until you know.

Q: Can I blame other women for being in the same circles as people who are being accused of abusing and raping someone?

A: I mean, you could… or you could blame the rapist for being a rapist.

Q: What if a guy has sex with a girl then the next day she texts to say she was uncomfortable. Does this mean men shouldn’t have sex at all?

A: No. It just means men should really try to pick up on cues from their partners instead of just mindlessly fucking them. Is she kissing you with the same intensity? Is she touching you, is she allowing you to touch her? Is she saying yes? Is she saying no? Or turning away or taking a step back? Are her hands on your chest pushing you away slightly instead of pulling you toward her?

You know… basic stuff.

If a person comes forward and discusses a time that they were abused or felt uncomfortable about an interaction but said nothing, or that they were raped or taken advantage of, questions such as the above do nothing but continue to give power to those who abuse and get away with it.

I’m not here to tell everyone to believe every story they hear, but these stories don’t have to be disproved and essentially dismissed by assertions that the victim is somehow to blame.

Editor’s Note: The writer of this piece is using humor to discuss man-on-woman crime as it relates to specific media stories in recent news and is not suggesting that sexual violence or victim blaming is not perpetrated by members of other genders or under different circumstances. Our platform supports and promotes our contributors’ and any woman’s right to explore feelings on difficult subjects such as this through their creative writing.

Lisa Hooper: Book, TV, & movie enthusiast. Stuck in a ‘beginners guide to running’ cycle of fitness. The type of person who has a face for hats but has never actually bought one. Opposed to flying but ultimate dreamer of traveling.