“She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”
The other day I was on Facebook, casually scrolling like I usually do and I happened to stumble upon an article that was recently shared on my timeline. This article highlighted a girl who was raped in 2012 at the University of Virginia. After being lured up the stairs of the fraternity house she was in by her date, Jackie was raped by seven different men for three hours. She found herself in a dark fraternity house room at 3 am after being traumatized for hours… alone. When she’d realized where she was and what had happened, she rushed out of the house and called her friends to come rescue her. After trying to explain what had happened, one of the guys who came to pick her up stated, “She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”
After such a horrific incident, this seems like the most misogynistic and demeaning comment someone could make. Where is the sympathy and the compassion? It seems these days so many people, men and women, lean towards blaming the victim and making excuses rather than standing up for what is right. This is probably one of the most common reactions because of the false yet common myths about rape. Sexual assault victims may feel humiliated, ashamed, or embarrassed about what they were forced or coerced to do. They may often feel responsible for decisions that they made before the assault that they (or others) may later think led to the assault. Even talking about the sexual assault can be difficult because we risk being disbelieved or rejected. The truth is that rape is never the fault of the victim. One thing our society needs to do as a whole is work towards ending victim blaming.
Thankfully, many people in the world today are working to stop this misconception of victim blaming. From celebrities to scholars to politicians, the blame game is in the works of being ended. One celebrity who is working strongly to try and end this is Law and Order star, Mariska Hargitay. In an article in Time magazine that we discussed in class, Hargitay states, “Society continues to misplace blame and shame on survivors—both women and men—on college campuses and everywhere else. That has to end. We must confront the myths and excuses that help perpetuate sexual assault. We must speak about these issues, boldly, thoughtfully and often, because criminals thrive when we are silent, when we are reluctant to engage, when we insist that these issues are too murky to sort out.” Rape should never be an issue that is taken lightly on any accounts. We can’t deny the facts: one in five women on college campuses will be sexually assaulted during their four years, and one in sixteen men will be sexually assaulted. In class we learned that conservative estimates suggest that twenty five percent of women experience sexual assault in their lifetimes and about eighteen percent of those assaults involve rape. Also, eighty to ninety percent of sexual assaults are perpetuated by an acquaintance. In the instance of this case at the University of Virginia, these mere statistics served to be true.
So why do people tend to blame the victim rather than accepting their word and the truth? For women maybe it’s because shrugging off a rape or pointing fingers at the victim may be something done as a form of wishful thinking. It could be done to reassure ourselves that, despite the obvious facts, we could never be so vulnerable to this violence. For men, skepticism is a form of self-protection too. For much of their lives, they’ve looked forward to college as a place to become a man, with no rules and have fun… and of course carrying the expectation that when you consume alcohol, sex may be a given with no-strings attached. However, despite everything, there should be no excuse for victim blaming especially when 60% of rapes have been found to not even be reported. Along with this, 97% of sexual assault offenders will never spend a day of their lives in jail. According to Rolling Stones article, there was a study released in 2002 which explored the truth behind rapists and sexual assault offenders: “Lisak’s 2002 groundbreaking study of more than 1,800 college men found that roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each. None of the offenders in Lisak’s study had ever been reported. Lisak’s findings upended general presumptions about campus sexual assault: It implied that most incidents are not bumbling, he-said-she-said miscommunications, but rather deliberate crimes by serial sex offenders.”
The facts are there, so why hasn’t there been more to stop it? In a world where rape statistics are so high and it is something that cannot be avoided, why is there not more to be done to prevent rape and get awareness out there? What more can be done to end victim blaming, and promote compassion among all people when it comes to an issue as significant as sexual assault?