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.

~ by omgrey on November 15, 2012.

11 Responses to “Who’s to Blame?”

  1. This is perfectly written. It is no coincidence that 99% of men and probably 90% of women dont understand that the blame lies with the man. It is by design. And it would be no less than 1 million times i have been blamed, have heard other women blames, and been dismissed when i’ve tried to explain this to people. It’s insidious, and we need to do no less than mobilize troops to fight the war against women.

  2. pardon my typos.

  3. […] Who’s to Blame? […]

  4. The analogy you use is interesting and insightful, physical violence that clearly can be seen as nothing but assault, in this case battery. No one would blame the victims in this case. Sexual assault (Rape) is often met with skepticism because the wounds are not always there to be seen. The problem is a social atmosphere that has been desensitized to violence. Especially against women, most lawyers will get the attacker off by assaulting the victim once again if it even goes to trial. Often the victims are reluctant to come forward because the burden of proof is near impossible to distinguish. He said she said is often the case unlike the victims in your analogy. Rape is a vile and emotional physical attack and until social attitudes change and community’s come together to combat this crime, most victims will see no justice.

    • Exactly. Most certainly will not see any justice.

      My point in using the analogy is to show the psychological damage even when there are no physical wounds. I once met a rapist who even admitted he had raped but justified it because he “never left any marks.”

      Society has not only been desensitized to violence, they have been socialized to accept that violence against women is just par for the course. It’s what happens. No big deal. Oh, and on top of that, women are lying and crazy and vindictive anyway, so they’re either making it all up, blowing it out of proportion, or they deserved it for, you know, just being a woman.

      Agreed, too. Until the cultural climate changes to believe the victims of these horrific crimes as the default, to put the burden of proof on the accused rapist (socially, at least, if not legally), then nothing will change. Rapists will rape rape rape rape rape and only 3% will ever see a single day of jail.

      It’s time we revoke their social license to operate.

  5. I can not quote statistics, but I do know most victims know there rapist most also happen indoors without witnesses. Procedures such as rape kits are only worth while when the rapist is unknown to the victim. Also a system that puts the burden of proof on the victim, makes conviction almost impossible. We as a community have to come together to give the victims justice, and care. The victims need to report and keep reporting to out the rapist to make it impossible for him to ride out the storm and rape again. We have books of laws that are not enforced so making new laws is not the answer. Example that we can all agree happens every day… Two people are speeding and get pulled over one of the speeders is charming and the other is not, one gets a 100 fine the other gets a warning. Why is this both committed the same offense? It’s the same with some of these rapist he is to charming and does not look like a rapist He dresses well is educated so must be a mistake. The other guy is tattooed mean looking we better investigate him. We need to treat every report the same investigate ask the tough questions. We can not accept selective enforcement of the law. Just my take on only part of the problem. Sorry my comments are longer than your post.

    • I can.

      80-85% of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Upwards of 90% of rape kits are never processed in some districts. Police habitually minimize and dismiss rape and sexual assault reports due to lack of physical evidence. Even with physical evidence, very few go to trial. Only 14% of reported cases go to trail, and only about 40% of the cases are reported. 3% of rapists ever see a single day in jail.

      No. Making new laws are not the answer. The answer is revoking what Thomas from Yes Means Yes calls their “social license to operate.” We must make it so socially unacceptable to rape or even joke about rape that the rapist/accused rapist will suffer humiliation and social ostracism for being called out. Which is exactly what the victims face now for coming forward. We, as a society, must reverse this and put the burden of proof on the accused. The questions must be posed to the accused, not the victim.

      Do not ask or say to the victim:
      “Did you fight back?”
      “Did you say no?”
      “Why were you alone with him?”
      “I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding.”
      “Just a case of love gone kaplooey.”

      The questions are to be directed to the accused and the accused only.
      “What happened?”
      “Why were you having sex with her if she withdrew/didn’t give consent?”
      “Was she crying?” “Was she frozen?”
      “What are you going to do to make this right?”

      Most rapists don’t look like rapists up until the raping starts. It’s so rarely the creepy guy in the dark alley. It’s friends, lovers, spouses, siblings of friends, teachers, therapists, pastors, etc. etc. etc. It’s those you think you can trust, often those that have encouraged you and shown you they are trustworthy, that’s when the raping starts.

      The law (and enforcement of the law) won’t change until the cultural climate changes. Until we no longer stand for any of this. Until we acknowledge that a woman is raped ever 1-2 minutes in the USA and the only way that will stop is to believe the victim. To make it safe for them to come forward. To put the burden of proof on the accused.


      (BTW, before the usual chorus of FALSE ACCUSATIONS and INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY rains down on me from the peanut gallery peeking in, please refer to my post on Falsely Accused. Between 1.5 and 8% of rape accusations are false. As low or lower than any other falsely reported crimes.)

  6. Was not meaning to high jack yet another post of yours but this issue is near to me. So when someone writes about it I feel an opportunity to get the message out to a greater audience. I’m very happy you have found such an audience.

  7. i think it’s m uch less than the limit of 8%, i think it’s more like the 1%. Also while used to think this was an offensive thing to do (make a false accusation) as i saw it as a slap in the face to the women who are raped, i know see it as a strategical tactic to be taken on en masse, to put every man on the defensive. Worth a try to see if it could help

    • It is more like the 1-2%, but there are so many studies and they’re all going on incomplete data. There was a great article on it not too long ago. I’ll have to find it again.

      Even 8% is low, but I think it’s much lower. Much, much lower.

      I would never lie about rape. I don’t respect anyone who does, if for no other reason that it perpetuates the myth that false accusations are common, when they’re not. But there are many other reasons I think lying about anything, but especially rape, speaks very lowly of the person.

      No integrity.

      I think just believing the victims would put men on the defensive for a change. No need to lie.

      Believe the victim.
      Question the accused.

      Name and shame.

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