I grew up with the constant feeling of hyper vigilance and fear of being attacked. Not because I lived in a crime filled area, or because I was in a war zone, but because of what I was taught as a young child and young adult.
Women, trans men, AFAB nonbinary people, and intersex people raised as femme are raised with the notion that it is up to them to prevent their sexual assaults.
We’re told that men will attack us and rape us if we’re not careful, so we have to take extra precautions and always be on the look out for the evil rapist in the shadows. Unfortunately, we’re more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone we know and are close to than the evil stranger waiting in a dark alley. Not that that stops people from putting a gigantic grocery list of things we’re expected to do at all times, even if some of those things are contradictory to one another.
We’re essentially conditioned to believe that we are the only ones who can prevent our rapes, and that it is our fault if we were raped because we just weren’t vigilant enough. We’re told that teaching people to not rape won’t work, and that rapists will always be rapists, so it’s up to us to prevent our rapes.
I was raped in 2002, and when I went forward to report it, I was told I was lying because I didn’t match the proper victim profile. Even loved ones and friends have told me that I’m lying because I’m willing to speak up and speak out about my rape.
Please note, this article is not saying that you shouldn’t be aware of your surroundings and take steps to remain safe. This article points out that time and time again, it is the VICTIM who is required to take all the steps to prevent their sexual assault, and if they don’t take every step, they are blamed in some way for their assault.
What we are telling people is to basically be just slightly less rapeable than the person next to them.
So what I am doing today, is providing you with just a fraction of the things AFAB people are told from a young age in regards to rape. See how many of them you’ve heard, or have said/believed yourself.
-Never have your hands full
-Always carry something in your hand that can be used as a weapon (keys, “self defense” device, pencil, etc)
-If you are getting into your car, don’t put your stuff in first and then get in, get in and pull your stuff in with you.
-If you are alone, don’t do anything that can distract you from your surroundings
-If you’re out and about, don’t listen to music with headphones or keep one ear off
-Don’t wear clothing that can provide “easy access”
-Certain types of clothing send the “wrong impression” (Halter tops, tube tops, belly shirts, spaghetti straps, short skirts/shorts, tight pants)
-Don’t wear shoes that you can’t run in safely (wear sensible shoes!)
-Don’t travel alone at night
-If you HAVE to travel alone at night, stay away from the buildings, walk in the street if you have to
-Lock your car doors the MOMENT you get in the car
-Do not do anything in your car such as making phone calls/checking items after you get in, this leaves the opportunity to be attacked
-Take self defense classes
-Shout “FIRE!” instead of “Rape” or “Help”
-Don’t fully face an unknown man if he approaches you and starts talking (keep your body positioned to “escape”), if you fully face him, you cut off some escape routes if he turns aggressive
-Don’t make eye contact with men you don’t know, this may be an invitation for them
-Travel in groups if you can
-If you can, travel with a man if you are going somewhere
-Don’t “look” like a target
-Don’t accept help from strangers, especially regarding cars or anything that could result in a kidnapping/rape (same with accepting help carrying groceries)
-Lock all your doors and windows, do not leave them open unless you have them blocked in some way (dowel, window locks)
-Install a security system
-Always let people know were you are at all times
-Don’t live alone
If you DO get assaulted: (These still make me sick)
-Try to resist, but if you can’t escape right away, become passive
-Do not resist if he has a weapon, be passive. When he is distracted with raping you, get the weapon away from him (he will probably discard it to have both hands on you) and then attempt to get away. Do not use the weapon on him.
-If you cannot do any of the above, and shouting for help won’t do anything LET HIM RAPE YOU and then when he is done, try to escape. (We were told our lives were more important, and that we could live through a rape)
For those who could drink:
-Don’t go out drinking, or if you do, do not leave your drink unattended
-Cover your drink with your hand when you’re not drinking
-Be the designated driver
-Go to clubs where it’s only women
-Don’t go clubbing
-Don’t drink more than one drink
-Don’t drink at all if you don’t know your alcohol limits
From my daughters:
-Don’t bathe regularly, if you are smelly they won’t want you
-Make yourself look ugly
-Be “slutty”, men don’t want to rape “used” women (holy fuck did this take years to deprogram)
-“I want to be a man, if I’m a man I can’t get hurt anymore”