9 Insensitive Things You Should Never Say to a Rape Victim

The Lovely Cicada | Insensitive Things You Shouldn't Say to a Rape Victim

I try to keep this blog light-hearted but a recent event close to home, leaves me distraught. It came out that a boy a couple towns over from me, who has contacted me, and has asked me to do a photoshoot with him, has been assaulting multiple women and forcing them into having sex. Not to mention the countless women he attempted to contact as well or attempted things with. Numerous victims are coming out, speaking up, and no longer feeling alone. As a victim of similar situations, who has never had the courage these women have, I feel mortified by some comments I have seen from fellow humans. So for anyone forgetting to think before they speak, here are some tips. 

Do not:

1. Tell them they should have gone to the police. Cut it out. I highly recommend doing a quick google search and gain knowledge on the psychology of victims. Often, they won't go to the police due to people shaming them, people not believing them, police not doing enough, the justice system not doing enough (i.e. Brock Turner, 3 months), people trying to twist it to be the victims fault, they feel shame/manipulation/emotional distress/shock/disgust/confusion, etc. It is overly common and it is very scary to feel like the only victim. You feel completely alone after an attack. You feel helpless, hopeless, dirty, worthless, confused, lost, shattered, broken, violated, infiltrated, horrible. Unless you have gone through it, don't tell someone how they ~should have handled it. It is not easy and it is not that simple. 

2. Insist they are lying or are attention-seeking. Part of the reason people do not come out about their attack right away is because of these types of comments. People will tell friends, family members, police officers, etc and then are made out to be the bad guy. Or told "it must be a mistake", "you must have done something to provoke them", or are not taken seriously at all. Realistically, do people lie about rape? Yes. But it is a RARE occurrence and the statistics are so low where almost anyone you encounter that says they've been raped - has. Do not let a couple bad seeds take away your empathy for victims. When there are multiple women that come forward with similar stories and friends that knew something was off with the rapist, they are not lying. It doesn't make you knowledgeable, smart, different, or right to insist a victim is lying. It's completely rude and more than likely - wrong. 

3. Be fooled by the nice guy, or girl, facade of the rapist and defend them because of it. Do you know who was a charming and charismatic man? Ted Bundy. Do you know what he did? Mutilated and raped the corpses of women. A pure psychopath. Did you know people had a hard time believing he was guilty because he appeared nice? There are multiple layers to a person and some layers are dark, sick, and twisted. Just because you don't see it or haven't personally seen it doesn't mean it's not there. They just haven't showed it to you, personally. Don't be those naive people who want to turn a blind eye for their own egos sake.

4. Think that just because it didn't happen to you when you hung out with him doesn't mean it didn't happen to others. Not every person a rapist comes in contact with will be a victim. It all deals with location, opportunity, power, person, and so forth. You should feel lucky it didn't happen to you and have empathy to the ones it did. 

5. Mock the fact that they may have received an STD from said perpetrator. Just because someone has an STD does not make them gross and it does not change them as a person. There is such a stigma around STD's when most of the time, with safe practices and medication, they are not an issue and do not interfere with a person's sex life. They have dealt with the feelings of shame where they don't need you reminding them of it. Also - that is the LEAST of the problem. They wouldn't have received it if they hadn't been assaulted. Which should be your main focus.

6. Say, "why is it all coming out now? Why did the victims wait so long if it really happened?" Again, this is something where an understanding of psychology and victim mentality is crucial. Not only psychology but the ability to put yourself in their shoes. When one victim comes forward, it's a domino effect. Strength in numbers, no longer feeling alone. Women supporting other women at a time like this is a wonderful feeling so it allows other victims to come forward when they were never able to before. Statistics are almost always in favor of the rapist so most women never come forward. They go through the motions of filing a report, going to court, being treated like the perpetrator, being accused of lying, and so forth only for the perpetrator to receive minimal time, if any. When you are a victim, your spirit becomes shattered and you feel you have to be silenced because no one will take you seriously. By questioning it, you remind them of why they had trouble coming forward in the first place. Be there for the victims and help allow future victims feel comfortable enough to speak out. 

7. Judge whether someone is lying about a rape due to their physical appearance. Saying someone didn't get raped because their appearance isn't "up to your standards" is disgusting, ignorant, and shallow. Rape isn't about looks and it's sick one would even think that way. A victim's looks should NEVER be brought up. Rape is about power and control. It literally doesn't matter if YOU think a VICTIM is attractive. They're a victim. They're not on display for YOU to attempt to exert your control. Have some respect. It sounds extremely moronic and incredibly low. 

8. Make jokes. This is pretty basic. Don't be a jerk to someone who has already suffered so severely. It amazes me how much empathy people can lack at times.

9. Say "that's what you get for talking to strangers." Strangers are a part of the real world. We will come across them daily: in a restaurant, at work, on the internet, at the grocery store, at a friends house, at a party. Our coworkers were once strangers, our friends were once strangers, our significant other was once a stranger. If we never talk to strangers, most people would be without friends, a job, and a significant other. When you have mutuals with someone and know people who have worked with someone, you don't give them a psychology exam before meeting them. It's another way to victim blame when I'm sure almost 100% of people talk or have talked to strangers. Statistically, most perpetrators of violence and sexual assault are actually people you know. Women and people in general ~should~ be allowed to partake in talking to strangers. That's not the issue. The actual issue is people need to stop sexually assaulting and raping others. That should be the focus and that's what you should be concerned about. 

So for the rape apologists, victim blamers, and skeptics: take a break, reflect on yourself and why you feel so strongly about attempting to discredit a victim, talk to victims, gain some knowledge, and grow a little empathy. 

If you are a survivor:

You are strong. 
You are courageous.
You are not weak.
You are not dirty.
You are not disgusting.
You are not alone. 
You are not worthless.
You will overcome this.
Not easily and not quickly.
But you will.

You are enough.
You are strength.
You got this.
You will prevail.

Like a phoenix,
you will rise from the ashes,
stronger than before.

"But I Don't Want To Kiss Grandma & Grandpa" & Why I'm Actively Teaching My Child Consent

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When I was younger, my parents would urge me to kiss and hug people. In their eyes, it was disrespectful and impolite for me to not do so. It was also the solution to almost all issues such as my sister and I arguing and hitting and pushing. “Hug things out.” But neither my sister nor I felt like feigning happiness while our personal space was being invaded with our bodies tensed up with aggression and being pressed up against each other while upset. We were angry and had every right to be. The anger wasn’t going to be resolved with a simple hug. I think for a while in my youth, it gave me a poor perception of what I owed to people and what I had to give people even if they didn’t deserve it. 

Children at a young age are sponges. It’s an age old saying but it's nothing short of truth. They absorb every little detail they see and hear. One thing they shouldn’t have to absorb is that they don’t have control over what they do with their own body. 

As of late, Jared Fogle of Subway harboring child pornography, Bill Cosby drugging and assaulting women, Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach and his sex abuse scandal, and Josh Duggar’s inappropriate relations with his sisters are all prime examples of why I plan to ingrain into my son that you can tell adults no, even if the adults seem friendly and kind.

Truly, society doesn’t teach kids properly about consent or how to voice consent. Voicing consent allows children to understand what is appropriate and what isn’t appropriate. Always making a child kiss or hug someone they don’t want to, sets them up for future vulnerability when they feel obligated to kiss or hug someone. Or when they can’t voice sexual or physical abuse because they were taught they HAD to do something and not doing so would be impolite.

When I was younger, I was taught that if a boy chased me around the playground or tripped me, he liked me. I was taught that if a boy kicked me or pulled my hair he was “just being a boy”. I was taught that I had to kiss Grandma and Grandpa even if I didn’t want to. Society calls things “sharing” or “flirting” or “respect” that don’t truly fit into those categories but are instead ways to ignore a lack of consent and feel obligated to give your body in a way you don’t feel comfortable. 

Even though kids are young, they should be the only one that has a say in who has access to those intimate moments. 

The minute my son says “Stop!” or “No!” while I’m playing with him (lest it be tickling him, chasing him, swinging him, kissing him, hugging him, etc), I will stop. He’ll learn from the beginning that “no means no” and “stop means stop”. I won’t teach him that it’s fun or funny to continue doing something when someone is uncomfortable. I want him to know his body is his own and no one else’s. 

I want him to grow up knowing he owes his body to no one and no one owes his body to him.

Even now, in my early 20s, I am still put in similar situations. I’ll meet a stranger who I chat with for a while and at the end of the conversation or the night, they want a hug from me. And when I say no, they act offended and want to know why I won’t hug them goodbye. Simple: I don’t know them. I’m not intimate with them. I don’t need to. There doesn’t need to be a reason other than the fact, I don’t need to. Yet the issue continues to be pressed and they wind up attempting to make me feel guilty. 

I don’t need to feel obligated to hug anyone. I don’t need anyone to be close to my body if I don’t want them to be. I don’t need to feel guilty for not wanting to hug someone. And neither does my child. 

Manners and respect do not correlate or go hand in hand with physical affection and it’s disappointing to see people teaching their children otherwise. Where do the boundaries start and end? How is someone supposed to teach their children boundaries when their children’s boundaries are being infringed upon in the first place? I challenge any naysayer to chime in with a logical reason as to why a child who does not want to be hugged, should be hugged or why a child deserves to have forced access to their body. I can't think of a single one. 

They don’t need to hug or kiss their relatives to be polite. They can always kiss, high five, wave, give bumps, or shake hands. It shouldn’t be required of any child to kiss or hug someone they don’t want to. They may be little but they still can make these choices on their own and who has access to their body, above all else, should be one choice they have a say in. We need to remind children that we respect not only their mind but their body as well. 

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