Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

It’s only rape if you scream

The news has been reporting recently on the beliefs about rape that a great many people hold. These beliefs - which I'm going to call by their real name, rape myths - are a dangerous misunderstanding of the facts that lead to rapists escaping justice, victims being blamed and blaming themselves for what has happened, and rape continuing to be a problem in societies across the globe.

Today I'll be writing about screaming. And how it's only rape if you do. If you don't scream apparently it doesn't count. Apparently rape is only rape if you scream and fight your attacker. Apparently if you don't do those things you aren't really being raped.

Because rape is the worst thing that could ever happen to you - and if the worst happens your reaction ought to be FIGHT.

The thing is, this is a fucking lie. This is a LIE. This is not, for a huge proportion of victims, anything like the truth of their rape.

You know why?

Because for the majority of people who have been raped they weren't in some dark alleyway or park with a stranger.

They were with a friend. Or their boyfriend. Or a friend of their brother, or parents, or someone they went to school with, someone they've known for years, someone they trusted.

They were at a party, or at home, or at this friend's house where they've been so many times before.

They were stunned, scared, surprised.

They wondered if they had said or done something to make this happen.

Even as they are held down, pushed back, penetrated, they are frozen, silent, the scream trapped inside under a voice saying "this is your fault" because this isn't how they thought rape would really be.

Rape, according to the media, is a violent, random crime carried out on girls in short skirts in an alley behind a bar, it's a stranger, a monster, in the dark, there's a weapon, a threat, the women fight back, they scream and kick and fight - and so in real life when someone they know and trust removes their underwear and forces themselves inside the scream is stuck - stuck behind "this can't be rape, this can't be rape, this can't be - I did something wrong, I said something, I made this happen" when in reality only one thing makes rape happen - and that is rapists.

This perpetual misinformation of rape, and how to prevent being raped by wearing the right things, being in the right places, avoiding the monsters in the dark, not drinking too much, not eating the wrong things, not looking at someone in the wrong way - this victim blaming - means that most women who are raped don't even report it. Most women who are raped struggle to even use the word rape for what just happened to them and they blame themselves. Most women who are raped don't really believe that it was rape and that they deserve justice, that their rapist can and should be punished - they don't believe it, and because they have been given a belief of what rape is and their rape doesn't fit that description they don't think anyone else will believe them either.

So they blame themselves.

The only thing that causes rape is a rapist. That is the ONLY thing that causes rape.

There are girls and boys, men and women, being raped as you read this. They are being raped and they are not screaming. They are not screaming because so many of you have said that it's only rape if it's a stranger, in the dark, with a weapon - and it's only rape if they scream. Because so many of you have said that, and the girls and boys, men and women who are being raped today and who aren't screaming will never report it. Their rapists will carry on as normal afterwards. They might rape them again. They might rape someone else. They will be free.

But the person that they raped won't be. Ever again.

Just like understanding that domestic abuse isn't always violent people need to understand that rape is not what the media paints it to be. Rape is far, far more terrifying - because it happens every day, to people you know, by people you know, it happens at home, it happens because people don't understand, and when it happens you very probably won't scream. But it counts.

This post was first published here - thanks to author for permission to cross post.

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2 thoughts on “It’s only rape if you scream

  • j says:

    It’s not just that people are stunned – they are threatened. Threatened with death, with exposure, with (in the case of credulous children) prosecution and prison and all manner of horrors, or else they have someone covering their mouth and crushing their chest. This is a horrific rape myth and the summing up by the defence barrister in the Le Vell trial was truly offensive in this respect: a quote from the Guardian

    “Alisdair Williamson, defending, mocked the assertion that Le Vell was guilty, saying: “Welcome to the prosecution’s hall of mirrors, where left is right and right is left.”

    “Had she really been raped as a young child it would have been extremely painful. There wasn’t even a muffled scream. She just didn’t make a sound. Is that real?””

    Well, yes. Sorry, Williamson, for me, many times over as a young child, it was. And it is for others. Another arrogant, ignorant barrister, another abusive rape myth.

  • Anon says:

    I can’t call it rape because I consented to sex. I had sex with him, therefore he could do whatever he wanted to me and it isn’t rape.
    That’s how I feel and how others make me feel. He didn’t attack me out of the blue, he just forced me to engage in things I didn’t want to. Yes, he had to physically hold me down, but that’s not rape…after all, I was in bed with him already.
    Thanks for writing this piece.