A Short Guide to Who Is To Blame in Cases of Sexual Assault

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[content note: rape apologia, rape]

Sexual assault and rape are never, ever, the fault of anyone else but the rapist. Full stop. No coda. No “but.” No addendum. It is never the fault of the victim. They are never “complicit” in their own assault, and the actions they chose to take have no bearing on whether or not a person raped them. Perpetuating anything else – like Emily Yoffe did in Slate this morning – is to cast doubt and aspersions upon victims who are already being doubted – by their friends, by their family, by the police, by the prosecutors.

Correlation between events – people getting drunk and people getting raped – is not causation, a basic statistical truth that seems to fail society when the question of sexual assault comes into play. Even if a remarkable number of people were drunk when they were assaulted, that does not mean that their drunkenness played a role. It simply means that we seem to have a whole lotta rapists on college campuses. And these rapists know how to use preconceived notions about “safety” and “provocation” to their advantage, to blame their victims, and to escape consequences.

It’s time to flip the script.

Were you wearing "immodest" clothing? It’s still not your fault.

Were you drunk? It’s still not your fault.

Were you walking in a bad neighborhood? It’s still not your fault.

Were you without weapons or training to defend yourself? It’s still not your fault.

Had you consented to sex with this person previously but not now? It’s still not your fault.

Did the person threaten you in order to get you to comply? It’s still not your fault.

Did you sit in anything but a “ladylike” manner? It’s still not your fault.

Did you forget to lock your door or close your window? It’s still not your fault.

Did you wear shoes that made it hard to run away? It’s still not your fault.

Did you exist in the same space as a rapist? It’s still not your fault.

Did you have sex with someone when they did not consent, withdrew their consent, or were not capable of consenting? Then you are a rapist and it is your fault.