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Society victim blames too often, needs to reform opinions of assault victims

Kayla Kulp, Design Editor

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Two years ago, Brock Turner’s case emerged in the media. Turner was charged with three accounts of felony sexual assault for attacking a woman; she was intoxicated and unconscious, leading to Turner’s arrest on the basis of rape. In return, the case took over the internet.

Unfortunately, after months of trials and pain felt by Turner’s victim (later called “Emily Doe”), Turner was sentenced  to only six months in confinement in a county jail. However, he was released after only three months for “good behavior.” This event, which was largely condemned within the media, is not foreign to those who commit sexual assault, or those who are assaulted. Turner got off free, while “Emily Doe” has to live knowing her assaulter violated her, and yet barely got any punishment for his actions.

Yet, even with protests against Turner’s freedom, there was another societal reactionary issue carried into the months of the case: Doe being blamed for what happened. This cultural issue, which particularly surrounds victims of rape and sexual assault, is simply called “victim blaming.” In Doe’s case, she was blamed for being drunk, social media accounts and even news outlets claiming that if Doe had not been drinking, she would not have been assaulted.

As ridiculous as this accusation sounds, it is unfortunately a societal conflict that has huge negative psychological effects on victims of sexual assault. Most of the time, those who do victim blame do not even realize they are doing it, through common phrases such as “boys will be boys” or “she asked for it.” Society’s actions of victim blaming also feed into what is called “double impact”; this is when a victim of assault has to go through the assault, and then also has to go through the trials and outsider perceptions of what happened, commonly hearing themselves get blamed more than the assaulter.

In cases of assault, nobody is to blame but the assaulter; and, yet, this is not what happens. When it comes to reporting the violence, there is very little incentive to do so because victims are afraid they will not be taken seriously. In fact, approximately over half of assault victims do not report their assault. When it comes to false accusations, those only make up 2 to 8 percent of all accusations, according to the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women. Also, as well as possibly not being taken seriously, victims of assault have to become subject to invasive medical exams, are questioned about their sex lives and have to relive the assault during a trial. Even so, the common outcome on these cases is dismissal.

The way society treats victims of sexual assault is despicable. Women are commonly accused of lying and wanting money or attention, while men’s cases are brushed off because there is a common misconception that men simply cannot be raped. In fact, one out of every ten rape victims are male, and the number may even actually be higher, since men’s rapes go extremely underreported. This is due to societal issues that prioritize hypersexualization of men and toxic masculinity, skewing the views men have of their own gender and whether or not their assaults are valid.

The media and society needs a moral reform that involves rewiring the way people perceive victims of assault. When victims of assault go public about the situation, they are automatically doubted and become pressured to tell every detail of their assault to people who do not deserve details at all. There needs to be a change from blaming clothing and alcohol or drug use, to blaming the person who commits the assault. Victims have to start learning that what happened to them is never their fault, and deserve help, not to be reprimanded and analyzed.

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The official student news site of Athens Drive High School
Society victim blames too often, needs to reform opinions of assault victims