I feel a lot of anger at the moment. Last week I watched the documentary Audrie and Daisy on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it then it’s the true story of two young women (and other women) who were sexually assaulted and raped then had the attacks shared on social media and their names smeared around by those in their community.
Tragically Audrie, who was 15 years old at the time, committed suicide because she thought her life was over and she would never regain her reputation. With the case of Daisy there was clear evidence that she had had sex, it wasn’t consensual. She was so inebriated that she couldn’t remember anything and her attacker left her almost comatose on her front porch which was so cold that when she was found she was frozen to the step. She was 14 years old. The abuse and name calling that she suffered was so horrific that she had to move towns. Her house was burnt down. The case was eventually dropped and in the documentary the ‘sheriff’ if you can call him that, said “you know girls do like attention”. A classic case of blame and shame the victim culture. Let’s reiterate she was comatose, 14 years old and was locked in this room with the 17 year old attacker so there was no escape even if she could have.
What makes me so angry, other than the horrific crimes committed is people’s reaction to them. People are quick to judge and blame the victim, calling them sluts, whores and every other degrading name. How can we educate our children to grow up having respect for each other and to understand that no means no and if they can’t answer then it certainly means no. We all have a responsibility to pull each other up on degrading behaviour to either sex.
I think our culture has a lot to answer for. Growing up it is almost expected that you will get groped in a club at some point. Dancing on the dance floor someone grabs your ass. It’s not ok, it’s a crime. It’s happened to me many times but i’ve either been drunk or when I turned around I didn’t know who it was. We have to speak up when people do this. It’s a crime. The more we let people get away with it the less they will question their behaviour. I was sexually assaulted two years ago on the street. A man who had been staring at me on the bus followed me off and grabbed my ass, there was no one around and I screamed at him and all he did was walk off staring at me. I felt completely powerless, he had just abused me and I seemingly couldn’t even stop him. I was enraged and took to social media asking what to do? Thankfully my cousin, who is in the police told me it was assault. This man thought he had the right to touch me. Why? He had absolutely no right. I reported it to the police who were fantastic. They followed it up but couldn’t track him down. Because it’s happened to me before in more casual settings, i.e clubs I almost didn’t realise it was a crime. How fucked up is that? (Edit; now I think about it this isn’t the only incident that’s happened to me. When I was 21 I was assaulted in Thailand. I felt heavy shame, I thought it was my fault because I had gotten myself into this situation. I had put myself in danger. Heavy shame that gets buried away. It wasn’t my fault and the man saw it as an opportunity to abuse me.
With the victim blaming culture is it any wonder it’s so difficult for victims to come forward? There is a hashtag at the moment #whywomendontreport fronted by the actress Rose McGowan. If you follow it you will see how she was discouraged from going ahead with a lawsuit (by a female attorney) when she was raped because she has previously acted out a sex scene in a film. What sort of message does that send?
Taken from an excerpt of the The Telegraph article 80% of women don’t report rape or sexual assault, survey claims
“In 2012 the parenting website Mumsnet found that 10 per cent of women had been raped, and 35 per cent sexually assaulted. Almost of a quarter of victims had been attacked repeatedly, and two-thirds knew the person responsible.
But most of those who had been raped or sexually assaulted (83 per cent) failed to report it to police, and 29 per cent did not even tell friends or family what had happened. Overall about half said they would be too embarrassed or ashamed of the incident to admit it but two-thirds said they would hesitate because of low conviction rates.
More than half of the 1,609 female respondents to the survey said the legal system, the media and society at large is unsympathetic to rape victims
Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet, said: “The results of our survey are really shocking. We simply shouldn’t accept that we live in a country where one in ten women are raped and over one-third sexually assaulted.
“Things are made worse by the feeling among many women that they can’t talk about these crimes for fear of being treated unsympathetically, denying them access to practical and emotional support when they need it most.”
Shouldn’t we be educating children not just on safe sex but also consent? Shouldn’t we NOT be shaming victims of assaults and rapes? Shouldn’t we be puling people up when we hear them talking or acting in a way that is disrespectful to women? I found a campaign for consent program in the UK but there has been no update since 2014 on the site. Does anyone else know of campaigns to educate teenagers in school on consent?
Edit; I almost didn’t want to mention him, but of course there is Trump, running for president of America, making the most lewd comments about women. Accused of rape, making out his comments are ‘locker room banter’. He is poison.
I understand that it must be incredibly difficult and painful for victims to come forward. But we need to pave a way for those that do to feel supported and listened to. Otherwise where do they turn?