WARNING: This post deals with the topic of sexual assault. If you think you will be triggered, please do not continue reading.
Those of you who know me, know I am a ‘victim’ of sexual abuse. It happened over a 9 month period, from November 2005 to August 2006. He was the boyfriend of my best friend (then mine), I was the incredibly naive and insecure little girl. It began with seemingly harmless flirting, and ended with him raping me 8 days before my 16th birthday, then him’ breaking up’ with me and the subsequent demolition of my mental health. I was admitted into a locked adolescent psychiatric unit for 3 weeks and I’m *still* receiving therapy around it now. He chose me. He programmed me. He made me think everything was my fault.
And that’s the prevailing attitude in our society, whether overtly discussed (or not). Somehow, we have got it into our heads that victims of sexual abuse, bullying, and often murder are somehow to blame. In the past few weeks, I’ve heard my own mother talk about Jill Meagher, and how she shouldn’t have walked home alone at that time of night – like somehow, she is to blame for being killed. I know that my attacker, that Jill’s attacker would have found someone else if we hadn’t been available. In Jill’s case, maybe he would have chosen an unknown target, and still not been brought to justice (much like mine).
So here is the thing I want to say – IT IS NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT!
I don’t care what they were wearing, where they were, who they were with, what they drank or even what they previously consented to. I don’t care what the colour of their skin is, if they’ve previously said something mean to you (or you think they did), I don’t care if they have a medical issue that makes them ‘different’. A victim is a victim. Don’t try to tell me that we’re safer walking home in groups, because more often the rapist or murderer is someone you know well. Don’t try to tell me that to ‘avoid being raped’ women should dress less revealing, because my attacker attacked my while I was in trackies, uggies and a jumper. Don’t try to tell me that they were “asking for it” for being out so late at night. Don’t try to tell me that ignoring the bully (or, conversely, standing up to them) is going to stop them. Don’t ever try to imply that the victim is ever at any fault or holds any responsibility for the horror that has occurred. It always is the perpetrator’s responsibility, it is always the perpetrator’s fault.
To other survivors, I want to say this: As hard as it is, you have got to stop blaming yourself for what happened to you. Holding onto that thought means your attacker still has control over you. The good news is, you can break free. So take that chance and live your life according to your wants, your needs, your desires.