Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

“Well, that’ll teach you to be more careful”

Since the age of 18 I made the naive decision to confide in those I believed closest to me - in making such a decision, I have left myself open to not only the torment of my rape and the nightmares that go with that - but the confusion and unwillingness to be understood by my confidants. I have allowed myself to hear their ugly thoughts and opinions on something only I should be allowed to have an opinion on, I have experienced the human race's inability to lend a listening ear, to comfort and to hold - but instead to judge and subtly blame me for what I experienced during my relationship with my rapist.

I understand that my naivety reared a relationship that many found difficult to swallow, a relationship where people would rather sit back and comment on from afar than reaching out in a bid to help. I also understand that unfortunately rape is still a taboo subject, people flinch and recoil at the word - the connotations attached make peoples skin crawl. I know, looking back, that I expected too much from my inner circle to react and pull me out of a situation. A situation that they believed I got myself into and a situation they deemed possible to get out of, their lack of understanding fuelled their judgemental attitudes. People are always frightened of something they don't understand, something they've never had to experience.

In many ways I was pushed further into his arms by their complete inability to acknowledge what was going on, the fact that some of them had him as a Facebook friend. They would rather comment on their dislike of him instead of questioning my thoughts and feelings. When I was diagnosed with depression, a direct factor of my rape, I had to listen to their whispers and see their eye rolls, 'she thinks she's the only one with problems' one of them said, whilst others shrugged it off and casually stated 'I didn't realise it effected you that much', as though rape and depression is something that you just 'get over'. They made me feel like I was the one to blame.

There were times that I found the strength to reach out (albeit when I was drunk) sitting my closest friends down and attempting to explain how even though he hurt me, I was trapped and I loved him, I looked for guidance and instead I was told to 'stop complaining'. They couldn't get their head round the fact that I was his girlfriend and I remained his girlfriend, that I was not an innocent girl that was dragged into the toilets or down an alley. Instead of questioning why he abused me, they questioned why I stayed with him, why I was the one letting it happen. They trivialised my experiences, with comments like 'you'll get over it' and 'well, it's only four years of your life', they couldn't understand why I was falling apart. I was told that if he was ever convicted for what he did, that it would be 'harsh'. Simply because I was in a relationship with him, I apparently didn't deserve the justice that someone would if they were viciously attacked by a stranger. I questioned whether their thoughts would be different if I was a victim of domestic violence, if I came home with my face beaten black and blue - would it be acceptable to prosecute him then when they had visual proof of what was happening?

I had to listen to my family members chastise me and tell me that if I did take the case to court, that 'I would be ruining a young man's life' and that they were sure I was 'as much to blame in all of this', I was expected to revoke my statement so he would be free to live his life a free and innocent man, allowed to manipulate and control someone all over again - whilst I had to live with the guilt and shame. They sat there and said 'well, this didn't happen when I was younger' and silently branded me a slut because it had never happened to them, because they only went through life with 'two boyfriends', I was told that 'next time..' it would 'teach me' to be 'more careful' as though I was the one that even needed to be taught, as though I was the one to blame. They sighed with relief when they found out I'd been raped rather than getting myself pregnant. My boyfriend at the time berated me for his belief that I'd always 'love' my rapist more than him.I had to listen to jibes from my closest friend saying that, 'It's so easy being gay, you don't have to listen to women saying no if they don't want to. If you want sex, you have sex. Who even says no to sex?'

I've learned to accept that the majority of people simply turn a blind eye when there's trouble, an unwillingness to get their hands dirty - yet something I will never be able to accept is the fact that those very people who make no effort to reach out a helping hand are also the ones with the most to say - the ones who blame victims so casually, most the time without even realising.

- I have a blog documenting my own experiences through the court case and how my rape case was handled with victimisation a main theme: it can be found here: http://revokingmyanonymity.wordpress.com/ if it is of any use to your followers.


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6 thoughts on ““Well, that’ll teach you to be more careful”

  • Jean Hatchet says:

    That is a horrible experience. I’m so sorry it happened and for the way people around you have acted. You have done nothing to cause either of those things. The poor behaviour is that of him and them. I hope you feel better for sharing with EVB and I’m sure you’re helping others with this brave post. Well done. JH x

  • Hecuba says:

    You did not cause the man to rape you – he made the decision and he alone is accountable for his crime not you. However, sadly innumerable women believe mens’ lies that ‘rape’ is something which women are responsible for not the male perpetrators. Likewise men too refuse to accept male accountability because this means they too will have to take a critical look at their collusion with excusing/denying male accountability.

    Reality is there are innumerable women and men who continue to believe men’s lies and finding a trusted confidant is very, very difficult.

    Denial of women’s reality of having been subjected to male sexual violence is always the easiest option because it means not having to see the world as it really is not as men claim it is.

  • Amber Carr says:

    Thank you for your kind words, the healing process and the ability to ‘move on’ is very much affected by comments made by those closest to you – I truly believe without the right support, it’s very difficult to find any self love again. I really hope that other victims can read this and know they are not alone, and that they can find their own peace in their inner strength.

    Thank you again! x

  • laura says:

    When a woman says NO,men should respect that.Rape is like murder,only the victim stays alive.

  • wornwoman says:

    Hi Amber- it wasn’t naive of you to get into a relationship with a rapist- unfortunately they don’t have it written on their forehead. I fell into a situation identical to yours.

    Neither was it naive of you to expect loved ones or the police etc to support you. Even Andrea Dworkin was shocked by the ‘second rape’. Hard to believe some of the things people come out with! It reflects on them, not you.

    You are a determined person and I empathise a lot. It takes a lot to try and bring this cases to court, and can be drawn out for a long time, what amounts to several months/years of being treated like shit. I’m sure there’s something we gain from going through something so hard-not sure what though lol. Maybe just that we see what women doing that go through for ourselves.

    How you feel is completely normal for the situation- sounds like the people who were around you aren’t! It does get better and good on you for sticking your neck out- more people need to!xxxxxxxx

  • Robbie Knight says:

    Oh, Amber. I was even told, when I was molested at seven years old, that I had brought it on myself. My mother was too horrified to do anything and just told me I’d have a “terrible time”. The 17-year old pedophile realized that I wasn’t scared enough of him to keep my mouth shut and painted me as the neighborhood whore. At 7 years old.

    The lengths to which a narcissistic parent, an offender, even an entire dysfunctional, misogynistic culture will go to blame the victim are insane in scope.

    The culture is insane. You are not. He was at fault. You are not.

    It’s an act of rebellion to refuse to bear the fault for an offender’s actions. It’s incendiary to refuse to comply with the herd. It forces you into the position of revolutionary.

    It sucks.

    And you are hitting BACK. It took me a lifetime and a mortgage spent on therapy to start really fighting back, but I do now. I know the cost and I know the way the fight can wear you out. I know how brave you are.

    I’ll always remember a comment on a blog posting by Anonymous.

    “When you dominate us, brutalize us, intimidate us, try to control us, you think you are making mice of us. You are not making mice. You are making DRAGONS,”