This was me. This is what I looked like in high school around the time the abuse by my stepdad was ending. I was on the tennis team. I was in honor classes and made mainly A’s and B’s. I was quiet and kept to myself for the most part. I was a naive and compliant kid. Not one to ask many questions or rock the boat; I did as I was told. I had only a few friends who would have anything to do with me outside of school. I wasn’t the kid who had a ton of sleepovers with friends. Home is where I would be.
Home life was not great. I was the family and marriage counselor. I was the one the whole family looked to to make sure my mom didn’t commit suicide. They made her my responsibility. There were times I used my body as a shield to keep her from driving off while crying hysterically. She would often tell me how she wished she could drive off of a bridge or just run away. So I would stand in front/behind of her car to keep her from driving off while crying hysterically because I didn’t know if I would ever see her again if I let her drive away. I did the majority of the cleaning and I did everyone’s laundry.
This is my Denim Day protest. I didn’t wear skimpy clothes. I wasn’t a flirt. In fact I was shy. I was a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, and I still am. There was nothing about me that would have said I “asked” for it, and that’s because I didn’t. No one ever does.
Let me say that again.
No. One. Ever. Does.
When I was four years old my mother was attacked in front of me by a serial rapist, Robin Scott Dasenbrock, who had broken into our apartment. I woke up to seeing my mother struggling in front of me with a man who had ahold of her from behind. When I screamed he let go of her and ran.
Later, someone made a comment to my mom that if this man wanted to have sex with her then why didn’t he just ask her out on a date. For one thing, a date does not equal a responsibility on the part of the woman to sleep with the man. For another, what would dating have to do with a stranger breaking into your apartment and attempting to rape you? This implies some kind of responsibility on the part of the victim to placate to the deviant urges of a rapist. That if only the victim would have given it up then there would have been no need for the man to rape her. Victim blaming at its finest. My mom did not do anything to invite this man into our lives in such a way. She certainly did nothing to “ask” for it.
So the next time you hear about a victim of sexual assault remember this:
- What they wore has nothing to do with it.
- The level of alcohol in their system has nothing to do with it.
- Their behavior has nothing to do with it.
- Their line of work has nothing to do with it.
- Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with it.
- Their compliance to their attacker has nothing to do with it; they were trying to survive.
- Sexual assault can and does happen to boys and men.
- They in no way “owe” it to anyone to have sex with them.
- There is nothing they could have ever done that would imply they “asked” for it.
- They are in no way responsible for the vile actions of another.
- It was not their fault.
Remember these things and treat victims accordingly with sensitivity and compassion. Knowing it was not their fault, and they did not ask for it. The only one responsible for a sexual assault is the offender, hold them accountable for the assault, not the victim.