“What were you wearing?” “You shouldn’t have had that much to drink.” “Obviously they asked for it.” “Men can’t be assaulted.” This is what many survivors, especially of sexual assault, hear whenever they come forward with the story of their trauma. This way of reacting is normalized when it should not be.
Victim blaming is prevalent in today’s society as many have come forward with their traumatic experiences. Cornell Law School defines sexual assault as an umbrella term for any sexual contact that is forced upon someone, an unwanted sexual act, threatening someone until they say yes, or doing a sexual act to someone without their consent. This response is usually due to fear because hearing another person’s story and experience can and will make someone realize that the world is not just.
People who blame the victim sometimes do so because they don’t want to believe that a victim did everything right and yet something very traumatic still happened. They want to know that there was a reason this happened so that they can avoid doing it. Though that does not always happen in these situations. Sometimes a person can do everything right and still end up in harm’s way.
Especially in sexual assault cases, the victims are often blamed because of what they wear or because they were under the influence of a drug. This is no excuse, as clothes do not determine a person’s worth or their ability to consent. Someone could be walking around in a sweatshirt and leggings and get assaulted in the same way that someone walking the street in a miniskirt can.
If someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol it affects their state of mind. Therefore they cannot consent to sexual interocurse with someone as their mind is not clear and they cannot fully understand the decisions they are making at the moment. Drugs such as alcohol can impair a person’s ability to reason, and can even lead to the loss of memory. But this can also lead to a euphoric feeling, or feeling invincible. This means that a person cannot consent while under the influence of drugs and alcohol because their state of mind will physically not allow them to recognize the fact that this could not be a decision they don’t want to make. People who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs are incapable of consenting to any sexual activity.
Some people believe that if the person “wanted it” or was doing something that warranted assault, that they deserved what they got. But that just isn’t the case as no one deserves to have their right to choose taken from them.This common form of blame is used to demonize the victim of the situation. To say someone is “asking for it” is shifting the blame OFF of the person who committed the heinous act and putting it onto the victim themselves.
If someone comes forward with their story about sexual assault, then they obviously trust the person they are telling. They are talking about a terrifying and very traumatic event in their life and that is very hard to some to terms with. Blaming them for something that is not their fault, like sexual assault, could ruin their trust and deepen their trauma. It is never the victim’s fault, no matter the circumstances.