Dear Brentan: No one "asks for it."

Dear Brentan: No one "asks for it."

I read a post today by a young woman who was looking at her sexual assault from a decidedly spiritual angle. An interesting piece that I encourage you to read here. It was the title, " 'I Was Asking for It': Another Way to Look at Rape," that really pulled me in, I am always interested in reading about other people's experiences with their own sexual assault. I was inspired to see that she had taken a rare spiritual view of the circumstances of her assault but I was saddened to see that in doing so she had ventured into the role of rape apologist.

It is an aspect of sexual assault that during the long period of recovery many survivors hit a point during which they struggle to reclaim their own power; in order to do so they choose to see themselves as a crucial player in their own assault. I went through a period of self-blame during which - in order to make sense of someone taking my power from me - I had to allow myself to believe that in some way I had delivered my power over.

I offer this not as a critique on Brentan's brave article, everyone journeys at their own pace, but as a companion piece to her experience. I do not blame myself anymore, I did not participate in my own victimization. Yes, I was assaulted by two men at a party where liquor was present. Yes, my own childhood abuse, depression, being bullied, and my lack of self-worth had me making questionable choices about who I was choosing to spend my time with but these things did not make me "ask for it." 

They made me a target for predators. 

I would ask Brentan, as she is Chicago-based, to come see the work we do at Rape Victim Advocates. To speak with other survivors (as I do), to speak to the other advocates -  some of who I mentor, to share and be comforted.

Working with other survivors changes how willing we are to take the blame on ourselves.

Maybe then she can see that self-blame is another way society washes its hands of rape by allowing survivors to be responsible for the crimes against them.

I offer this final thought, our experiences vary and it is important that we are willing to see that. However, it is equally important that no story becomes the touchstone upon which all other experiences are compared.

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