“Boys will be boys”

In the United States, one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. 95% of campus rapes go unreported. A survey conducted by RAINN revealed that only 25% of reported sexual assaults lead to an arrest.

Often times, there is no coverage of the issue of sexual assault and rape in America, and when coverage is given, fingers are pointed towards the victim in the situation. Comments like, “what were you wearing”, “did you do anything that could have been misinterpreted” and, “was there alcohol involved” may seem innocent and insignificant from one perspective, and harmful, insulting, or even devastating to another.

My observation of the portrayal of sexual assault and rape on both social media and the news, is that boys and men are not usually held accountable for the decisions they make, regardless of the scope. The phrase, “boys will be boys” is commonly used in order to overlook the mistakes that boys and men make. How often have you heard the expression, “girls will be girls” in similar situations? Never.

I brought up common examples of victim-blaming that are intertwined constantly in daily life. But what exactly is victim-blaming? Red My Lips defines victim-blaming as, “any statement or question that focuses on what a victim of sexual violence did or didn’t do, implying that their behavior makes them fully or partly responsible for being assaulted or for failing to prevent their assault”.

Off-handed comments like, “you should have been more careful,” might have been intended to be kindhearted and selfless advice, but in reality, all of these remarks lead to the shaming and silence of rape and sexual assault survivors. When survivors suffer from victim-blaming, often, they are discouraged from reporting the case, or moving forward in general with a rape or sexual assault incident. Additionally, “victim-blaming allows rapists and abusers to perpetrate their crimes with minimal social or legal consequences”.

Victim-blaming can also lead to the secondary victimization of rape victims or a “second rape”. This term refers to the, “excruciating series of interrogations rape victims must endure after reporting their crime to authorities”. This experience is referred to as a “second rape” because the interrogations disregard the survivor’s needs, which mimic the survivor’s experience with their assailants.

Nearly one third of all rape survivors develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Rather than helping, victim-blaming can deeply damage sexual assault and rape survivors. There are many methods that can be employed to put an end to victim-blaming, and meaningfully help the survivor instead.

There’s multiple reasons for why people victim blame, whether it comes from genuine concern, or not. A common reason for why people place blame on the survivor is so they are able to distance themselves from this situation. By detaching yourself from the situation, it gives a false sense of reassurance, that this experience could never happen to you, “because I am not like the victim/survivor, because I do not do that, this would never happen to me”.

Victim-blaming doesn’t protect you from getting sexually assaulted or raped, rather, it makes the possibility more likely and more dangerous. With victim-blaming, the culture of denial and ignorance allows predators to thrive.

By eradicating the act of victim-blaming and victim-blaming behaviors and attitudes, we can curb the rates of violence towards women. Predators would be held accountable for their actions and wouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt. Rather than teaching young women, “don’t get raped,” teach everyone, “don’t rape”. Rather than placing blame upon the victim, give survivors your trust and help in the situation.