By Dawgelene (Dr. Dawj) Sangster
Often when coaching women, I hear, "It's my fault" or "I could have prevented this from happening." My response is usually to stop her from self-blame, and encourage her to see her progress in making it beyond that incident, and living a purposeful life.
I had a conversation with someone recently that shed light on the ignorance of some people in finding humor in someone's pain.
Individuals that know my story know that I strive to empower and coach women that have been abused, raped, homeless, or that need to feel empowered. While I have experienced all of those things mentioned, I don't dwell on that because I am living a fear-free life now. It took me a while to mentally get this way, but I am proud of this end result.
During the conversation, the person started talking about a young lady that was interviewed about a rape she reported several months ago. The young lady was standing near a group of individuals during this interview, and was reluctant to discuss the details about the incident. She was asked where the incident took place and why she was at that location. She divulged that she was visiting her friend, and the brother and his friends were there.
The lady felt she had been drugged and then attacked, but the details were not clear.
The interviewer questioned her story and ask was she sure it happened and did she actually go to visit the men in the first place. She was questioned about her attire and it was suggested that if she dressed with revealing clothes, then she probably encouraged the incident. It was also suggested that because she missed the court date, she probably lied about the incident.
As I was listened to this story, I was appalled because I could not believe that a person would even try to make it seem like the victim was to blame for the incident, and the person I was talking with found humor in the things the interviewer was asking the young lady that made her uncomfortable.
It bothered me that some people actually blame rape victims for what happened to them, or even find humor in someone else's pain. What has this world come to? Do we not have care and concern for the mental and physical safety of others? As the person started to say something else about the victim's discomfort during the interview, I asked why they found humor in the situation.
The person calmly said, "She dresses like a slut anyway and probably encouraged it, so deal with it."
There are so many things I could say about that whole conversation, but it would take too much blog space to say it. However, I will suggest the following:
- Don't assume that rape victims dress a certain way to encourage the incident. People should be able to wear something, look good in it, and NOT have to worry about being attacked sexually because of it.
- Don't assume that because a victim visited a friend, that they were actually encouraging the incident. People should be able to visit friends and NOT be concerned with being drugged and sexually attacked.
- Don't assume that because a victim missed a court date, that they don't care about the incident or lied about it. Maybe fear kept them from coming.
- Don't laugh at the pain victims experienced. They are hurting enough and feeling a sense of disconnection, sadness, and grief. Find ways to support them through their recovery.
- Do understand that if you were a victim, "DON'T BLAME YOURSELF."
- Do know that if you were a victim, you are now a survivor and CAN make it to see a brighter day.