The Problem with Victim-Blaming

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rapeWhile growing up in a rape culture, women are constantly told to follow the “rules” to ensure their safety. This list dictates what women should wear (nothing too short), what they consume (no drinks you didn’t prepare yourself), and even how they commute (never alone, never at night, and never in a “bad part of town”). Not only do these rules perpetuate a series of rape myths, they also result in victim-blaming.

Victim-blaming is a pervasive part of the trauma many survivors experience. Too often when survivors disclose, they are met with a checklist of questions, all centered on their actions instead of the perpetrator’s. Rather than focusing on the inappropriate and illegal conduct of the perpetrator, many will blame the victim for not adhering to the prescribed list of rules. The notion that any “disobedience” of the guidelines could result in or justify sexual assault is not only incorrect but it also discourages survivors from coming forward about their experience.

Victim-blaming occurs for many reasons. Some of it is rooted in notions around masculinity (“boys will be boys”), some of it in a general disregard for women’s bodies, and some of it comes from fear. Sometimes, people resort to victim-blaming to as an attempt to maintain an illusion of their own safety from sexual assault. In this case, it is easier to police the list of rules and insist that following them will prevent assault than to acknowledge the scary truth that rape can happen regardless of what the survivor does or does not do. But rape happens because of rapists—not the length of a hemline, or the amount of alcohol consumed. When people victim-blame, they distance themselves from the victim and keep alive the myth that the responsibility to prevent rape lies on the assaulted, not the perpetrator.

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One Billion Rising for Valentine’s Day

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One Billion RisingOne in three women worldwide will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. Around seven billion people live on this planet, so that’s about one billion women and girls.

One Billion Rising is a justice campaign that doesn’t just spread the word – it takes the word around the world. On February 14, 2014, 200 countries held events outside of government buildings, homes, places of worship, and countless other locations to demand justice for women and survivors of gender violence.

In the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women will experience rape at some time in their lives. This number increases to 1 in 4 women on college campuses. And hundreds of thousands of women and girls are bought and sold into sex trafficking each year.

Recent events on colleges campuses across America have shown that coming together as a community, fighting victim blaming, and not allowing colleges and universities to sweep sexual assault under the rug have been hugely successful — but we are not finished. Read more


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