The Mighty Logo

10 Things We Need to Stop Saying About Sexual Assault

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are 10 things we need to stop saying about sexual assault.

1. Did you have anything to drink? Had you taken drugs?

My decision to drink or take drugs does not equal a decision to be raped. My decision to drink or take drugs does not equal consent to have sex.

• What is PTSD?

2. What were you wearing?

Does my decision to wear a tank top mean boys should get to choose to rape me  If they are turned on by my clothing, that means the problem lies within them, not within me.

3. Do you have sex all the time now?

Just because I’ve been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted doesn’t mean I want to do it “all the time.” It doesn’t mean I wanted it then, nor does it mean I want it in the future. Just because I have been defiled does not mean I will throw myself at every man who passes me by.

4. Are you never going to have sex again?

Just because I was harmed by something once doesn’t mean I personally won’t give it a second chance. If we put down every dog that bit, barked at or was mean to a human, there would be no dogs left.

5. You need to forgive your attacker.

That is not for you to decide. That isn’t for them to decide. That is between me and my God. And even if I forgive them, it does not mean I have to give them a second chance. Second, third, fourth or fifth chances are how people end up in abusive cycles. Forgiveness can be dangerous. Are you asking me to willingly go back into a situation I barely had the strength to drag myself out of?

6. You were in that situation; it’s your fault.

Even if I did put myself in that situation by going to the club, or dating someone who I thought was safe and turned out not to be, or whatever, it does not make me responsible for other people’s actions. I did not ask him to rape me. I did not ask him to molest me. I did not make him do it. It was his choice.

7. Well, it wasn’t really assault, because… It wasn’t really abuse because… It wasn’t really rape because…

That is not up for you to decide. Were you the one who was forced into a dark corner? Were you the one whose tears were shed that night in shame? Were you the one who had to convince police officers they needed to believe you over him? Were you the one who had to feel their fingers on your skin, their breath at your ear, day-in and day-out for years?

8. Are you sure it was him? He’s not the type who would do that.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still dangerous. A wolf in sheep’s clothing may look nice on paper, may do all the right things, may know exactly what to say to get you to believe him, may paint on that beautifully fake sheep’s face just right. But that does not change that deep down, the second he gets you alone, he will tear into your flesh and eat you alive, and you will have to come crawling back, knowing no one will believe you, because he’s so nice, and “it’s your fault.”

9. Are you sure you’re remembering things right?

Am I sure I’m remembering things right? Am I sure it’s not burned inside my head the minute I remember? Am I sure that every night I lie down and close my eyes to go to sleep, it won’t still be there? Am I sure I’m remembering the one thing I can’t forget?

10. You’re not the type of girl who this happens to.

Then what type of girl is? The type of girl who is overly sexual? The type of girl who runs alone at night? The type of girl who is naive about the world? What type of girl is the type “this” happens to? What type of girl deserves this fate? What “type” of girl are you going to throw under the bus, to be fed to these monsters?

If we don’t change the way we think about sexual trauma, then we are going to continue to allow it to happen.

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

Originally published: April 3, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home