Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

My experience

I was raped when I was 21. I had walked home alone and it ate me up inside that I'd 'done the wrong thing'.

The police, to their credit, didn't show any hints of blame to start with but outside of that, it was present with how the police communicated with the press. It was bad enough reading the views of amateur and professional journalists who felt it was their right to give advice for "women not to go out alone" but when I read quotes of senior police officers saying the same thing it made my blood boil. They may not have said it to my face but they patently felt it was at least in part my fault.

Later the police tried to get me to go onto Crimewatch and tell my story. I was initially keen having been told it would help catch the man. I sensibly backed out when I realised it was just for good TV.

This came to a head when one of the police officers involved in my case explained why he thought the man may have stopped offending. It was apparently because "he'd probably found a girlfriend or wife".

So men only rape because they are lonely and women are out late at night. Thanks police. I feel like you have my interests at heart.

I was fortunate though. This all happened before the age of Twitter. The thought of my case appearing on Crimewatch with instant feedback possible on Twitter and no sanction for people who make judgements on the victims is a horrifying thought. Being raped is bad enough. Going through the investigation is worse than being raped again. If it had happened now, why would I put myself through the pain of it all when the chances of conviction are so low? In that way the attacks on victims are the most dangerous thing, as it is limiting other victims accessing justice not just the direct impact on the people attached.


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3 thoughts on “My experience

  • clare says:

    I know what you mean people feel they have the right to judge the victim and seem to make excuses for the attacker. I wouldn’t have the nerve to report it. Sometimes even the rapist thinks they where the victim (i live with my rapist yes i am that weak 🙁 ) but apparently because we have been together 6yrs i gave him a hug and we hadn’t done it in a while makes it my fault and me saying no ment yes :'( i just hope it never happens again!

    would dread to think what twitter would have to say about that one!

  • B, London says:

    I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve been through – the rape, the horrible emotional stress of the investigation and the treatment you got from the media and police. Sharing our stories through this great website will hopefully raise awareness and help change perceptions so that victims won’t be treated like this any longer.

    I am a victim of sexual assault – attempted rape. I too was walking around late at night (which we have every right to do without being attacked!). Your story has made me think about an article that was written in a local newspaper about my assault. The article was a mixture of good and bad – good: they included a quote from the police praising me for my bravery and published two articles appealing for witnesses, bad: the newspaper asked local people for their reactions to my assault!…the quote they used didn’t mention me at all! It was about how the person didn’t expect to see such a pretty park surrounded by a police cordon and how they thought the park was creepy at night and half expected someone to jump out from behind a tree at any moment! Maybe this person did mention me, the victim, but if they did the newspaper had edited it out. I remember my initial reaction to reading their quote – I felt stupid…other people knew it was dangerous there…why did I take that risk? The other bad thing was that the police had said that people should take the usual “common sense” precautions when out at night. I believe it was an important sentiment to get across and that they were right to warn the public but the term “common sense” didn’t make me feel great. It made me feel as though I had no sense that night, that I had done something stupid, that I should have known better…that I had contributed to my assault.

    The article was published on the newspaper’s website and they forgot to disable the comments function! My friend had to ask them to take the comments option off and explain that it was inappropriate considering this was an article about a sexual assault!

    I can’t say that I have 100% stopped blaming myself for what happened – that’s a tough inward struggle that I still have with myself to a small extent – but I think most of me now believes that all the blame lies with the perpetrator. I should have been able to walk on the outskirts of a park at night without someone pushing me to the ground and sexually assaulting me.

  • B, London says:

    To expand on what was said in the article about “common sense” precautions – these were: walking in groups when out at night and sticking to well-lit places.