I can write things quickly, but this post has taken me over two hours to write. Given Mia Freedman, Susie O’Brien and a host of other victim blaming statements made recently, this is for all of us, the ones those comments affect, the ones who have our soul grated at the more and more we hear them. Trigger Warning obviously for descriptions of rape and victim blaming sentiments.
I told my mother when I was fifteen about the things my stepfather was doing to me. The fact that he sadistically sexually assaulted me on my 14th birthday and had been doing so since. and she blamed me. She still to this very day makes the painful choice to live with my rapist. She says she I ruined her family and her marriage… I believed it was my fault. (But it isn’t)
I told a doctor who instead of abiding by mandatory reporting guidelines, asked my stepfather and mother to come in and meet with her and asked my stepfather if the allegations were true. When he inevitably denied them I was told quite categorically that making allegations of such a serious nature was not a game, nor a way of seeking attention. that it could ruin someone’s life. That was the year of my first suicide attempt.(I was 16)
I confronted one of my stepfather’s friends, who also participated in an assault.. He told me I enjoyed it… I began to think that on some level I must have. (I didn’t)
I went to the police in 2006 after being terrified of them for most of my teenage years (he was an officer) they told me they’d investigate and they did, but after almost five years in the system the case proceeded to be dismissed. He remains a police officer to this day and it is unsafe for me to ever live in Adelaide on a full time basis again, separating me from what little family I have left, including those that supported me. Once again I believed it was my fault. (But it isn’t)
3 years ago next week I was travelling to a Halloween party. It was one of the first times i’d been out in public as a trans person, preferring to keep my gender non conformity secret. I was physically and sexually assaulted by a man who has since left the country. The police did not investigate properly and I was left feeling like it was my fault because of the temerity I had to be myself in public. (But it isn’t.) 5 weeks after the assault I attempted suicide again, and almost succeeded.2 days in intensive care and 4 weeks in a psych ward.
Last year I was sexually assaulted at work. I did not go to the police because I knew they’d blame me as my occupation is a sex worker. I told only other workers. They believed it was not my fault. (Because it isn’t).
This is what victim blame looks like. This is what happens each time we suggest that in some way a victim of sexual assault is responsible for the violence that another individual chose to enact upon them. I am one of the lucky ones, I have had time, care, and effort put into helping me realize that my experience is the result of a profoundly sick society, that sexual assault is not my own personal affliction, nor is responsibility for sexual assault a burden I have to carry. There are many people who don’t have these things, that read and listen and take into themselves the bullshit about responsibility being theirs. It isn’t. It wasn’t then and it never fucking will be. It has been over 15 years since I was first a victim of sexual assault, but at the time I told my family until now, myself and many survivors are faced with the same attitudes. These are attitudes that if we are to progress as a society we must profoundly, vehemently, unequivocally reject.
Because it still isn’t my fault… never.