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It's never your fault

It's never your fault

Tuesday 06 October 2020

It's never your fault


A rape and sexual assault helpline volunteer has opened up to Express about the misconceptions harboured by society about sexual assault, and the myth of the "faceless stranger."

The volunteer comes from Express' chosen charity, Jersey Action Against Rape (JAAR), which offers long-term counselling support to rape survivors.

In this piece, they look at some of the doubts and fears that go through a survivor's head...

"There is a belief, sustained and maintained by people’s want and need for it to be true, for them to feel safe about the world and their children’s place in it, that rape is a faceless stranger. A masked stranger who jumps out from a darkened doorway, forces you, terrified, down an unlit alleyway.

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Pictured: "Is this your fault? Should you have known this cab driver’s intentions? That he was a bad ‘un? If only you’d known, if only you’d thought about it, if only...." 

Then holding a knife to your throat, a hand over your mouth, or just by his sheer physical bulk as opposed to yours, silences you into stupefied submission. It’s your fault right. Or at least it must be partly. If only you hadn’t taken that route home. If only you’d been better with timing and caught that last bus. Or even just accepted that lift from your friend who wasn’t drinking. If only, if only....

Or it is that cab you got into. Thinking it was safe because, well, because why shouldn’t you trust a cab driver? You get in them all the time. It’s safer than walking isn’t it? You didn’t know he would drive you somewhere else. Somewhere you didn’t ask to go. Somewhere deserted among trees or maybe an industrial estate, shut up for the weekend. Somewhere no one could hear your screams, even if you could scream through the frozen and muted state you find your body and mind terrified into.

Is this your fault? Should you have known this cab driver’s intentions? That he was a bad ‘un? If only you’d known, if only you’d thought about it, if only.... 

Or it could even be that man in the last nightclub you went to, with the stragglers of the hen party of your best friend. Buoyed up on drink and fun, you smile at him. Even flirt a little. What’s the harm? It’s what life is about when you’re young and single, right? He seemed harmless.

Until he didn’t. Until he didn’t want you to catch that last night bus with your friends. Until he separated you out and took advantage of your slowed down state, your loss of words, your inability to do anything other than look terrified.

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Pictured: Jersey Action Against Rape (JAAR) emphasises to rape survivors that it is never their fault.

But of course, you must be partly to blame. If you hadn’t worn that short skirt, if you hadn’t gone to that last club, if only you had listened to your mum all those times about ‘stranger danger’. If only, if only....

Or it could be your boyfriend, your fiancée, a family friend, your husband, your brother. 

It could be in an alleyway, in a street, in the office, on a bus, in your home. In your bed. 

You could have been wearing your uniform, your sexy little black dress, your gardening clothes, your nightie, a suit of armour. Maybe nothing at all.

There is only one common factor in all of these things. You didn’t want it. You didn’t ask for it. You most definitely didn’t consent to it. It wasn’t your fault and you should NEVER take responsibility or feel to blame for someone else’s actions, choices or behaviours. 

EVER."

This article first appeared in Connect Magazine, which you can read in full by clicking HERE

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