Talking about sexual assault prevention is sometimes a double edged sword. The reason we give recommendations like:
- don’t walk alone at night
- keep your drink with you and covered a all times
- be aware that there’s a high correlation between intoxication and sexual victimization,
is so that people can be aware of vulnerabilities that sexual predators look for when choosing a victim. However, these messages can be interpreted as victim blaming or can open the door for excusing the behavior of the assailant.
Historically, rape has been a crime that is treated differently by our society and our criminal justice system. Consider these scenarios:
- asking a victim of a mugging, “Why were you walking in the street alone in expensive clothes at 10 pm when you were mugged? Perhaps you were asking to be mugged? Questions about where you were, why and what you were wearing are commonly asked of rape victims, or
- asking someone who had been punched in the face “You said your heart was pounding and you cried out; might that indicate you enjoyed the encounter?” (yes rape victims have been asked about orgasm or other about whether, in the case of date rape, they had enjoyed kissing or other activities previous to the assault), or
- “You report you had a few drinks with dinner before your home was burglarized, might the burglars interpreted that as an invitation to come into your home and steal everything you own?”Having a few drinks or even being intoxicated is not an invitation to be sexually violated…ever!