Trigger warning: rape, sexual assault
In Canada, 78% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Only 22% of sexual assaults are reported when statistically one in three women will experience some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime.
Source: Ms Magazine
One of the most common reasons cited for a women’s choice not to come forward is fear of being blamed. Often, in Western society, when making statements of rape and sexual assault, the blame is placed on the women as the victim instead of her perpetrator. When reporting or in court, rape victims are often questioned about what they were wearing, how much they had to drink, the way they might have led their rapists on etc. These types of questions place of the onus of responsible on the victim, eluding to the possibility that had these factors been different, they might not have suffered a sexual assault.
By creating a cloud of doubt, victim blaming makes space for people to question the victim’s motivations and intentions when coming forward. When a survivor of sexual assault does come forward, often their entire public and private life is investigated to create doubt and discredit the content of their character. Unfortunately, this has become the norm as opposed to the exception.
Source: Rape Victim Blaming Infographic
A good example of victim blaming is when we teach women how to avoid being raped and assaulted. By teaching them how to avoid sexual assault we place the responsibility on them, therefore blaming a woman if she is raped. This is simply not acceptable. It is not a woman’s job to avoid being assaulted; it is the responsibility of men not to rape. In order to avoid victim blaming and target the true root of the problem, we, as a society, need to teaching men and women not to rape.
The issue of victim blaming will not be resolved overnight but the more people who are educated about it and the problems it create, the closer we will get to resolving it. For more information check out,
“Prevalence and Severity of Violence against Women.” Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends 2006:. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2016.
Tarrant, Shira. “It’s A Dress, Not A Yes.” Ms. Magazine. N.p., 4 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 June 2016.