Who’s to Blame?
Below is an analogy for Intimate Partner Violence, whether or not that violence contains rape and/or sexual assault. Think about it. Who is to blame? The victim or the abuser?
Two couples, deeply in love, are walking down the street hand in hand. They are completely into each other. They make beautiful love every morning and every night. They are walking down two identical streets. Then, as they are lovingly looking into each other’s eyes beneath a street lamp after a loving kiss, the man pulls out a knife and stabs the woman in the heart while smiling and saying “I love you.”
Woman A is a black belt in karate. Her body is trained to react, but he was so close to her and she loved him so much, that she’s not quite fast enough to stop the blade, only deflect it slightly. The force of his betrayal was so great that the knife penetrates the thick armor she wears for extra protection and the tip enters her skin before she can stop it, disarm him, and take him down. She’s injured and betrayed, but the wound will heal soon enough.
Woman B has never had martial arts training. She is not wearing armor, but rather a sweater given to her by her beloved. The knife pierces the sweater easily but misses her heart just enough for it to not be fatal. She falls to the ground bleeding profusely. While she’s down, the man stabs her again in the back, severing her spinal cord, which paralyzes her from the waist down, before kicking her hard in the stomach, causing her to cough up blood. Then he walks away, laughing. She’s crying on the sidewalk in a pool of her own blood, watching him leave with a skip in his step, never looking back. About half a block later, he meets another woman, and Woman B watches while he kisses this new woman tenderly, looking lovingly at her.
Who’s fault is Woman B’s near-fatal injuries? Betrayal? Who’s fault is it that she will never walk again? Who’s fault is it that she will never enjoy sex again? Never trust again? Is it the woman’s for not knowing enough self-defence? For not wearing armor? For not being self-protective enough? Or is it the man who turned on a dime and stabbed her? Who “moved on” with someone new while she was left bleeding, alone and betrayed?
This is what we do to rape victims, and even victims of players and emotional predators, every day. We blame them for not protecting themselves better. We blame them for being on the street in a sweater, instead of in armor, or in a short skirt instead of a sweater.
We blame the victim.
There is only one person at fault here in Scenario A and B and that’s the monster who stabbed his partner. It’s easier to see when it’s physical violence, but the damage is often as deep and as profound when they are emotional wounds, when the person lacks emotional armor or was never taught how to protect herself against such cruelty. To never even think it was possible
Moreso because these kinds of wounds can’t be seen.
Moreso because the victims often don’t have community support because there are no visible wounds.
Even when it’s rape.
Self-defense can minimize the damage done, both physically and emotionally, but the fault lies solely with the predator, sexual or emotional or both. Period.