Do Not Victim Blame in my Presence...Or Anyone Else’s

Sexual assault is not something that is new to us, yet many still lack the knowledge or skill set necessary to appropriately address these situations or offer commentary. Here’s my advice: Don’t. I’ll offer a little more detail on that “Don’t”. Don’t share if your comment could silence a victim in any way, shape, or form. Don’t share if your comments make excuses for the perpetrator or the act itself. No one cares if you think one should not be in a certain place at a certain time, or that one should dress a certain way to avoid these incidents. I can assure you those comments will never be relevant. Finally, don’t offer a comment that implies that the situation is “not that bad”, or that the victim is lying or using their claims as a way to cover up for something else.

If it is not your own personal experience you should take the necessary steps to remove yourself and your feelings from the situation before offering any type of comment. You truly do not understand sexual assault until it happens to you and you cannot ever assume that you truly understand someone else’s experiences or emotions. Of course, if you or anyone close to you has experienced it, you more than likely possess the tools to effectively offer commentary or help. Regardless, the only appropriate responses or comments on sexual assault is support and compassion. We should be fostering space for victims to speak out if they want or to help them if it is requested. If you cannot offer that, for whatever reason, or if you’re offering the opposite of that, I believe you’re best bet is to save it. 

As a friend of a survivor, it is very disheartening to think that some people can be okay making comments that can potentially silence victims, discredit their stories, or make them uncomfortable in any way. To be quite frank, no one is asking you to be an ally, or be fully invested in every story you come across. That is a personal choice. However, I am asking you to not take away anyone’s voice. Understand that some people have a hard time finding their voice and sadly, some feel like they’ll never find it. People have stories to share and healing to do, and your negative comments are simply not needed or wanted.