Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

“So, you consented.”

(Massive trigger warning for this one)

In the last 8 years I have been raped twice. I didn't even realise this until a few months ago when I made friends with strong feminists and began to read about sexism and sexual assault. It was partly because I couldn't bear to think about the experiences and partly because they didn't involve physical violence (in both cases it was someone taking advantage of me when I was extremely upset or ill) so "rape" seemed an over-dramatic word.

It never fails - every time I say anything to do with sexism or assault or rape, some man will come and start explaining rape to me and belittles everything I say. There's no way I'm able to tell them something as personal as "actually, I do know what I'm talking about", especially since they wouldn't believe me. They seem to think that my having to learn to distinguish creepy/predatory behaviour from innocent behaviour at a young age is paranoia, not proper evidence-based thinking, damaging to REAL victims (and men, of course), etc etc etc.

Earlier this week I finally sought help from a counsellor. It was very hard to tell her what happened, but I did. Her conclusion: "So, you consented." When I had said no such thing. I was quite annoyed and snapped back that I did not consent, in fact I begged the second rapist to leave me alone. I don't think she believed me. She also regarded very public and very personal comments to me from an abusive ex as "a compliment, that he is that committed". He'd probably have locked me in the house 24/7 after a while and carried on stalking his actual crush, if you call that commitment. But I don't think she believed that, either.

I told the counselling office what had happened today. They sent me back a policy outlining how it's not your fault if you get raped, etc etc. But it'll be my word over the counsellor's. The rapes, the seeking help, the telling the help sources they need to improve - they are all utterly isolating processes.


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10 thoughts on ““So, you consented.”

  • Alex says:

    That…is really awful. I hope that counsellor gets fired, and I hope you find a better one. It is definitely rape if someone takes advantage of you when you’re upset or ill. And I can’t believe that counsellor called abusive behaviour a compliment! What was she thinking? Jedi hugs if you want them.

  • Elizabeth. says:

    Unfortunately i know from frequenting Relationship boards on other sites that this kind of victim blaming from counsellors is common. It is one of the reasons counselling is not recommended in cases where there has been abuse in a marriage (though i realise in this case it was a different (albeit just as bad) situation. It still outlines a very serious issue that has been preying on my mind for a while, and that is that i dont believe counsellors are receiving enough training in how to spot signs of abuse. Ive seen this issue come up time and time again in threads on other sites and it is deeply concerning.
    Either enough training is not being completed by the counsellor because its not part of the module OR (and this is going to sound very cynical but its a conclusion ive come to after seeing threads started by abuse survivors on other sites) some counsellors are simply seeing £££££££ Unfortunately the decription of the attitudes shown in this submission here are not isolated.

  • Elizabeth. says:

    Here is just one example of a counsellor who cant recognise emotional abuse.


    • Admin says:

      We remember reading that piece and being astounded that Pamela Stevenson didn’t pick up on this issue. It is particularly worrying, especially as we are all aware how difficult it is to approach counselling and therapeutic service.

      The horror of being victim blamed by a service that’s meant to be supporting you, must set any chance of recovery back considerably.

  • AJPS says:

    I told the counselling service that I wasn’t going back and why. They gave the counsellor my mobile number and private e-mail address, both of which she used! She went on about how sorry she was, but was still very determined to make it all my fault – she was highly keen on Being Right.

    You know what, once I was done with the shock and embarrassment, I just laughed. I’m not going back there. I’m not at all surprised that many counsellors don’t know anything about abuse. Does anyone have any recommendations for where else I can try?

    • Admin says:

      Whereabouts in the country are you? We can tweet a request out for some advice, if that would be useful?

      Otherwise, we recommend contacting your local women’s organisation, such as Rape Crisis or Women’s Aid – they will be able to give you some advice.

      • AJPS says:

        Many thanks. I’m in London so I’m sure I’ll find something. Giving it a break for now – I don’t feel ready to go and seek help from a stranger yet (for some reason the Internet is different) 🙂

        Really appreciate all your trouble, and your believing me! xx

        • Admin says:

          When you are ready, Solace Women’s Aid co-ordinate many of the VAW services in London. They will then put you in touch with which ever organisation is closest to you, or most suitable for your needs.

          We do believe you, and we are sending you peaceful thoughts.

  • Elizabeth. says:

    AJPS She kept apologising but was still highly keen on Being Right? She sounds quite abusive herself. Im sorry you are going through this and have had this experience.

  • Elizabeth. says:

    ust had a look at Christian Jessens TL He also said he knows a rape counsellor who thinks the same as he does. Whether true or not it was another damaging thing to say. – See more at: http://everydayvictimblaming.com/submissions/dr-christian-jessen-spreading-rape-myths/#comment-5856

    If what Jesson says its true this problem with some counsellors seems to be very deeply ingrained indeed.