“As I started recounting some of my experiences with sexual assault, a destructive question has been popping into my head: what did I do to make this happen? Oh, how often I have chosen this weapon to relentlessly beat myself with. Clue: it’s A LOT.
So, I want to make it crystal clear to myself and anyone else who has ever asked this question—you didn’t do anything. We were not the cause of what happened to us. I realize how much of a burden we take on not to be assaulted, not to be to blame (when, of course, we are often seen as playing a part in welcoming our assault through our behavior).
We and others often use language that backs this up, that suggests the recipient is responsible for what happens to them:
‘I’m careful not to drink too much.’ (Code for: it happened because you were drunk.)
‘Well, I’d never wear that to a party/go home with someone I didn’t know/dance with someone.’ (But you did, so it’s your fault.)
‘You can’t expect to flirt with/be friendly to/smile at someone or talk about sex with them, you’re leading them on.’
Let’s Make It Clear, This Stuff DOESN’T Lead To Sexual Assault
1. Having One Or Many Drinks
2. Being Friendly Or Flirtatious
3. Dressing In Any Particular Way
4. Your Sexual Orientation Or Extent of Interest In Sex
5. Not Putting Up A Fight or A Struggle
6. Walking Or Being On Public Transportation At Night
7. Enjoying Attention Or Being Confident
8. Going Home With Someone
We’ve got to stop confusing behaviors we’ve adopted to remain safe with our own responsibilities, that if not adhered to make us architects of our own violations. Because if we force ourselves to have to be the defenders of our own safety, do you know who you’re taking off the hook?
The people who assault us.
The people who are actually doing the assaulting.
The people who see a drunk person as an opportunity.
Who think they have a right to our bodies.
People who read invitations into anything other than enthusiastic consent.
They’re to blame, and the messages from society tell them they can do what they want, because if a person is out/drunk/alluring/flirtatious/existing in the world, then they’re clearly asking for it. Because I can assure you, we’re really, really not.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lucinda Kerr. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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