Sexual assault survivors often blame themselves ,at least in part, for the rape. That blame can keep them from reporting the crime to police, can prevent them from telling anyone, and can make them question all their relationships. They continue to question themselves no matter how much a friend or an advocate tells them, “It doesn’t matter that you were _______  (drinking, out late, wearing a short skirt, flirting… you fill in the relevant words), you are not to blame for the rape.” 

From the outside people may question why a victim would feel guilty if (s)he wasn’t at least partially responsible. To them self-blame is may indicate that this wasn’t  a sexual assault at all, or even that the victim is making up the story. Yet self-blame, guilt, and doubt are all totally normal and expected responses to sexual victimization.

For a new perspective on  why these responses are actually adaptive (*at least in the short-term) check out this Upworthy doodle by psychologist Nina Burrowes. She draws cartoons that help people to understand sexual abuse and recover. Yes, there are good reasons why  victims blame themselves… it helps them recover. 

If  you or someone you care about
has experienced relationship or sexual abuse, there is help.
You Are Not Alone.

DVRC can help; call us at 518-583-0280 for an appointment
or call the 24/7 hotline at 518-584-8188