Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Myth of the Perfect Rape Victim

Let me tell you a fairy tale. It goes a little something like this.

Once upon time there was a young, white, straight, and happily married (or maybe a virgin or maybe both) woman. One day she went for a jog along with her husband (or maybe it was a group of friends) in a completely safe, upper class neighborhood in broad daylight. (Not by herself because women going
We can fight the web of lies being told about rape.
places by their selves would just be asking for it, according to rape myths.) She was wearing baggy sweats with athletic shoes, nothing that remotely revealed her body in the slightest. She was completely sober. And she didn't pass any bushes or hiding places for a rapist to lurk.

But all of the sudden a big gang of seven foot musclar black thugs who recently escaped death row appeared out of nowhere and tackled her onto the ground as she fought hard against them. They beat her and her friends unconscious, and then raped them for hours without condoms while also holding them at gun point and transmitting an STD. The men left them, still unconscious, for dead on the side of the road until a group of good samaritans came by and called 911.

The ambulance and the police showed up. By then there was gobs of DNA evidence, injuries, and witnesses who could confirm each other's stories. They so clearly did not do anything wrong. The trial was speedy and the rapists were convicted to life in prison on top of their death sentences. And everyone lived happily ever after except for the occasional panic attacks.

Somewhere out in the universe exists "the perfect rape victim". The one who everyone believes and no one says she (being male means you're not "the perfect victim") did something wrong or something that contributed to it or  or that the survivor made it up. The one who everyone can agree never deserved what happened to her. But in reality even in those circumstances the thugs wouldn't be on death row. They'd be star athletes on the football team. Or they'd be white high school students that it would be "such a shame that they're lives are ruined". Or the woman wouldn't have been the "perfect rape victim" in some way. Maybe she God-forbid walked by herself at night or gasp.... she wore a flattering dress or the woman was actually a male victim or she was a woman of color.

What about all the rest of us who aren't "the perfect rape victim"? Are we supposed to go about our lives constantly living it in order to prevent anything that might possibly "provoke" rape? What happens to the rest of us when we need to report a rape (or sexual assault) to the police, to a college, get a rape kit exam by medical professionals, tell a teacher, or tell a family member or a friend?

The truth is that we all go about our days living our lives the way we need to. You might avoid a certain neighborhood whenever possible or watch your drink, but let's face it, this is life. If you had to go around doing everything possible to avoid being raped, you wouldn't be able to live much of one. And after all of that, you still might get raped.

This isn't the Victorian era. Women no longer to have to have a man escort us where we go. Men are no longer the big protectors who can never get harmed. Somehow the myth of the perfect rape victim still lives in that time period.

And it's doing us all harm. It's keeping rapists out on the street because rape survivors can't bear the thought of possibly being attacked not only the actual attacker, but being verbally attacked or disbelived by the police they would report them to, doctors, nurses, the media, defense attorneys, family, and friends. And some people in all of these categories hold onto to Victorian era rape myths.

It's hurting us when survivor's don't get the medical care they need and some are permantently injured for life.

It's tearing us apart when survivors go into long bouts of depression, eating disorders, experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and even suicide. Some of them feel alone, some ashamed, and all because this is the legacy our society continues to carry on; that survivors must have done something wrong to get to where they are.

Together we need to put the blame and shame back where it belongs, on the rapist.

It's time to stop living small to avoid rape. It's time to start trusting ourselves again. It's time to live the lives we're only dreamed of. It's time to expand and put those rape myths back where they belong. It's time to rise and stop tolerating what can no longer be tolerated. Together, let's make a stand and take back our nights and our lives. We are a force to be reckoned with.


  1. This is so touching and powerful!
    Thank you for sharing it!

    The whole world needs to read this <3