Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. The one thing that all victims of sexual assault have in common? It’s not their fault. Ever.
Rape is a crime of violence and control. A victim does not provoke it by dressing in a certain way, drinking or using drugs, or being on a date with the perpetrator. The only person at fault for a rape is the rapist him or herself.
A lack of injuries or a failure to resist does not mean that the victim must have consented to the rape; in fact, the opposite is often true. Rapists may use the threat of violence to control their victims, or they may use drugs or alcohol to incapacitate their victims. Often, victims may submit to the assault because they’re afraid of further harm. None of this means that the victim consented to the sexual assault. Instead, it means that the victim did whatever he or she needed to do to survive the assault.
This reality — that rape is never a victim’s fault — is so important because, contrary to popular belief, most rapes are not committed by strangers. Nearly 2/3 of victims of sexual assault between the ages of 18 and 29 report that they had a prior relationship with their attacker. Because date rape or acquaintance rape is so much more common than the proverbial stranger in a dark alley, victims are often questioned about what they might have done to provoke their attack. The answer is that they did not do anything to “provoke” or “ask for” an attack, any more than a person asks to have their home burglarized. No means no, and anything short of a clear, enthusiastic YES is simply not consent.
Short skirts do not cause rape. Walking alone at night does not cause rape. Low-cut shirts do not cause rape. Flirting does not cause rape. Drinking does not cause rape. Going on a date does not cause rape. The only thing that causes rape is a RAPIST, and the rapist is the only person at fault for a sexual assault. Understanding this is the crucial first step in not only helping individual victims, but in ending rape culture.
Do you want to get involved in Blackburn Center's fight against sexual violence in Westmoreland County? There are a number of ways to help: Volunteer with Blackburn Center, donate to help us reach our goal of ending gender violence in our community, or schedule a training and education program for your organization, group or school. Together, we CAN make a difference!
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