Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"She was asking for it..."

My healing journey so far has been two-fold - it has involved revisiting my past while simultaneously learning ways to manage the emotional turmoil in my present that erupts from doing so.

Like I discussed in my last post, the pain of sexual assault does not end with the assault itself. There are numerous reasons why pain often lingers long after the actual assault. As noted by Jon Allen, author of Coping With Trauma, A Guild to Self-Understanding, physiological arousal, intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares can lead us to experience ongoing pain. In addition, as noted in this blog post by Darlene Ouimet, creator and author of the healing blog Emerging From Broken, we continue to experience pain due to faulty belief systems we acquire as the result of having been mistreated and deprived of emotional support and validation. Darlene describes how she "never got over [pain from her past] until [she] really took a good look at all of it."

As I go back and "take a good look" at my past, I am discovering the sources of the damaging belief system I developed following my assault and its aftermath. One of the main tenets that has stood in the way of my healing is that I deserved my assault - that "I was asking for it because I had been drinking." This belief is not something I fabricated entirely on my own - it's a belief that I have encountered numerous times in comments by family members and many others in my life.  Since joining support forums and researching sexual assault, I have discovered that many others in the survivor community have encountered this victim-blaming message and have struggled to overcome it so that they could heal and move on from their assault/s.

For me, pressing charges was never an option. By the time I could even begin to grasp what had occurred, I had showered numerous times, had spent a week in the psychiatric ward, had acquired a quart-sized Ziploc bag full of prescription medications, had become a terrible student, and had temporarily dropped out of school. I felt the ground crumbling beneath my feet and could not risk being on trial myself, having all of the recent shameful events in my life dredged up, only to have my perpetrator win what would have been a "he-said-she-said" case. I doubted and blamed myself enough already - the last thing I needed were more fingers pointing in my direction!

Photo taken from "Understand Date R@pe Myths"
Based on stories I have come across in support forums and resources on sexual assault, I see that my fear was not ungrounded. The internet and other support venues are flooded with troubling stories regarding victim-blaming by insensitive law enforcement officers, even in cases in which the fault of the perpetrator seems indisputable. Why did you let him into your house? Why were you walking alone at night? The comments go on and on.

These victim-blaming stories make it really difficult for me to understand shows, such as "Bait Car." For those of you who haven't seen this show, it is a reality TV program in which police officers leave unattended cars with the keys in the ignition. Usually, the car is left in low income areas of town with one or more of the doors opened. The police officers sit and wait for someone to "take the bait," and then they follow the car, shut it down, and then arrest the car thief.

Watching this show, the double standard that unfortunately exists between sexual assault and other crimes could not have been more obvious. How can police officers and Society in general excuse the behavior of rapists based on the premise that an intoxicated woman or a woman in a short skirt "was asking for it," and then arrest car thieves for stealing a car that was left unattended WITH the doors opened and keys in the ignition in a high-crime area? "Men can't help themselves" (vomit) so women should be held accountable for preventing rape? Couldn't the same argument be made that car thieves can't help themselves so the car owners should be held accountable for preventing car theft?

Until victim-blaming in sexual assault cases becomes less prevalent in our Society, I do not foresee statistics, such as "only 54% of rapes are reported to the police" and "97% of rapists never spend a day in jail,"changing anytime soon. 

Adults need to be held accountable for their actions - "bait" or "no bait."

Intoxication = Hangover, NOT non-consensual access to one's body 
Rape = Serious crime punishable by law


  1. Basically and sad, our justice system has broken down. What is perceived as bad becomes good or even questionable. We live in a society of "assumptions." Forget about facts. Too many people literally get away with murder. Sorry for the rant. Hugs to you dear during your struggles.

    1. What's that saying..."when you assume, you make an idiot out of you and me." So true!

      Thank you for reading, JBR! I hope you have a nice weekend. xx

    2. Even though you and many others are trying to have a "Voice," many times in our justice system it is squashed.

      You too dear one. Have a nice weekend. Blessings.

  2. You are soooo cute.... Weeeeee! ;)