We Need to Stop Victim Blaming
This piece comes with a trigger warning as it discusses rape and sexual assault.
Like many others, I was shocked to see a headline telling me that Ched Evans had decided he was the right person to advise women about how to avoid being raped. Or rather, if I’m being honest, I was enraged to see a man who was once convicted of rape tell women how to behave in order to avoid being raped. And that he thinks the police look for the easiest person to blame, as if rape cases are regularly reported, investigated fully and taken to trial. (Spoiler alert, they’re not).
I am not surprised Evans is a victim blamer – he was perfectly comfortable with allowing his legal team to use his victim’s sexual history against her as a way of getting his conviction overturned – but the fact that he thinks he has any advice to give is breathtaking in its audacity and arrogance. That he thinks that women should avoid getting too drunk because ‘genuine rapists’ are out there. Right.
His advice to men by the way is… oh wait, there’s none. Because only women get raped. Their attackers are also not the problem, clearly.
The fact that Evans felt able to say this and that the newspapers all reported on it only shows the prevalence of rape culture in British society. The level of victim blaming, how often the first question anyone who reports a rape is asked is about how much they drank, and the way in which rape victims often feel too ashamed to admit it’s even happened, let alone report it, are adding up to a toxic atmosphere around consent and sexual assault. Even the way in which the new ‘trend’ of stealthing, aka rape, has been reported is indicative of the way in which society views these matters. The debate as to whether it counts as assault is infuriating.
Just to be clear. Having sex without someone having given clear, full and continuous consent is rape. If someone changes their mind halfway through and you don’t stop, it’s rape. Forcing someone to engage in an act they don’t want to do is sexual assault. Removing protection of any form without informing your partner is, you guessed it, rape.
A drunk person cannot give full consent. Someone who is unconscious cannot give consent. Drinking, doing drugs, wearing revealing clothes and walking home alone do not mean you were asking for it. It does not mean you are not a victim. It shouldn’t mean that the police don’t take you seriously. Unfortunately, it often does. By speaking the way he has, Ched Evans has reinforced these terrible stereotypes and it is unforgivable. It makes me furious that he is going to play for Sheffield United again for a ridiculous amount of money. He doesn’t deserve it.
To any survivors of sexual assault who might be reading this – you are not to blame. The Eight send you love and support and although we are not counsellors or therapists, if you need to talk, please do email one of us.
Alternatively contact these organisations:
Rape Crisis, www.rapecrisis.org.uk, 08088029999
RAINN, www.rainn.org, 8006564673
Image courtesy of The Sun, it can be found here