Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

‘No Regrets’ Rape and Sexual Assualt awareness campaign

TW: Rape and Sexual Assault

‘No regrets’ Victim blaming campaign by Nottingham police

In West Bridgford Police station today I stumbled across this glaring piece of victim blaming:

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I’d like to point out that this campaign was launched in 2009 and since then Nottinghamshire police have progressed since then. I’d like to, but I can’t. The fact that it’s still present 5 years later suggests no one seems to have picked up on it, not to mention its appalling 2013 campaign which EVB analysed here.

The 'No Regrets' rape and sexual assault awareness campaign sends clear victim blaming messages. Not only does it frame sexual assault as something to be 'regretted' by the victim, implying it was the result of the victim’s actions, not the perpetrators, but it plays right into the hands of those who argue that women commonly ‘cry rape’ when really it was just regretted sex. Neither rape nor sexual assault have anything to do with regret. They have nothing to do with regret as they have nothing to do with choice. They are literally defined by a lack of choice and autonomy. You do not choose to get raped and you do not deserve to have the police, the very people who are meant to help you receive justice, imply it was your fault. The so-called advice – to ‘drink sensibly, stay with friends, and book a licensed taxi home’, under a picture of two women on a night out, is problematic on many levels. It suggests that rape and sexual assault are caused by alcohol, only occur when drunk or on nights out, and will never happen if you are ‘with friends’. Do Nottinghamshire police know that most rapes are committed by someone you know? A friend/acquaintance/partner/family member? Do they know that most sexual offences are committed in your own home/the home of someone you know? Do they know taxi drivers have been known to commit sexual offences? Do they know men get raped too? The ignorance surrounding rape and sexual assault in this poster is frankly appalling.

After searching for more information on the campaign I found this quote from Detective Superintendent Adrian Pearson, head of the Public Protection Unit, said: "People enjoy going out at Christmas time and letting their hair down. But the reality is that drinking excess alcohol can make you vulnerable to rape or sexual assault and may also affect people's judgment. We are urging people to drink sensibly, stay with friends, and book a licensed taxi home. This campaign will hopefully encourage people to think about their safety as well as highlight the importance of consent."

Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Police-launch-rape-sex-assault-awareness-campaign/story-12238267-detail/story.html#ixzz3KqkGh9Jc

This campaign in no way highlights the importance of consent. It places the responsibility for sexual crimes purely on the victims and mentions neither the perpetrators nor consent. I urge Nottinghamshire police to make the importance of consent a central feature in their next campaign, and not an afterthought.

What is also troubling is that manager of the Topaz centre (Nottingham’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre), Michelle Davies, is also recorded as being in support of the campaign. Whilst the police are known for their victim blaming tendencies I would have hoped for much better from someone in charge of a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. Caring for victims is an incredibly important role and I do not believe that someone who supports victim blaming messages is in any way suitable for this Job. I’m sure that the people behind that ‘No Regrets’ rape and sexual assault awareness campaign were probably well-intentioned, but when it comes at the expense of blaming victims for the actions of perpetrators, it is simply unacceptable. The after-effects of rape and sexual assault can potentially leave victims with lifelong trauma, they do not need anyone making them feel even worse, their perpetrators have done that already. I sincerely hope Nottinghamshire police remove all posters and apologize for the incredible damage that their victim blaming has done.

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2 thoughts on “‘No Regrets’ Rape and Sexual Assualt awareness campaign

  • Laura says:

    Just something else I wanted to add after some discussions on twitter – this poster was found in the foyer not in the toilets. Whilst it would still be just as harmful to anyone viewing it in the toilets, in the foyer it is in public view to anyone who walks in the police station – including both rape victims and rapists, and the view they pick up on from this poster is that the police place responsibility on victims not perpetrators. It will likely make victims who did not follow their ‘advice’ feel blamed and those who committed sexual offences against those who did not follow their advice, comforted that the police are on their side. And anything that makes victims feels worse and perpetrators feel supported in their actions is unacceptable, and particularly horrific coming from the police.

  • Hecuba says:

    Given Nottinghamshire Police openly promote the lie that victims of crime are responsible because they were drunk/had consumed alcohol when the crime was committed against them. This should mean any male who consumes alcohol and is subsequently physically assaulted/robbed by a male perpetrator is responsible for not ensuring his safety!!

    But this is not what happens whenever a male has consumed alcohol and is physically attacked when he is walking home very late at night, instead malestream media and police express sympathy for the male victim because the victim is male!!

    Saldy most Sexual Assault Referral Centres are not Feminist instead they are funded by the government and adhere to misogynistic Government policy. The Centre in Nottingham is not unique in having a manager promote misogynistic women-blaming. The backlash against real Feminist Activism means real Feminist support centres for women are rare due to men in political power having co-opted what Feminists created and turned them into ‘service centres’ wherein putting women first and listening to them is not a priority. Instead these Sexual Assault Referral Centres are business enterprises wherein the so-called professionals are the experts not the female victims of male sexual violence.