Guilty of victim blaming
author: mariam dini | contributor
What could this victim possibly have done deserve a lifetime of trauma?
Robin Camp, a judge in federal court while overseeing a case of a rape victim, explained that she should have kept her knees closed and that “sex and pain go together.” As a result of her experience with the judge, the rape victim then sadly contemplated suicide. Robin Camp’s responses to the alleged rape victim were disgusting. Robin Camp’s daughter, Lauren Camp, was a victim of rape. She was raped by someone she knew and didn’t end up pressing any charges against them, because she feared the trauma related to her coming forward and the court process.
That is only one of many accounts of how often today’s authorities jump to victim blaming, have a high tolerance for sexual harassment, trivialize rape, do not take rape accusations seriously, and inflate false rape reports. It is never the victim’s fault. I cannot think about a single situation where it would be the victim’s fault. And I have to say that I have met a handful of people in my life that would disagree with that and hand me ridiculous excuses like, “they were asking for it!” Excuse me? But “asking for it?” What could this victim possibly have done to deserve a lifetime of trauma? Of course, I have yet to find the answer to that question.
Rape culture is a growing epidemic, and it is both absurd and serious. I have too many thoughts, comments, questions, and too much anger toward this topic – more than I can contain in one article. So, I went ahead and asked a few students around campus about the subject in hopes of finding a story to share, and I was overwhelmed with most of the responses. Surprisingly, female university students in their twenties experience quite a bit of trauma related to rape; some don’t even acknowledge it or consider discussing the topic. Statistics released by the #WeBelieveSurvivors listening circle at U of R show that “1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted while in college with 90 per cent of all occurrences going unreported.”
One student whom I will refer to as “Ruby” had a heart-wrenching story and agreed to share it.
“I wasn’t that attracted to him,” she said. “I was just chilling with him in his car, and he bought some whiskey, and we started drinking. He kept insisting that I finish the bottle, so I did. I was tipsy after.”
Ruby initiated the first kiss, but she did not want it to go any further. When he asked her to move to the backseat, she hesitated, and he reassured her not to worry.
“It was all chill, then all of a sudden he was on top of me and started getting really horny. I mean, we’re all humans, some can control themselves and some can’t and I did say no!”
I was hoping that was the end of her story, and I was not mentally prepared to hear what happened after “NO!” I hoped her saying “NO!” would be enough to make this stranger stop; however, it did not stop there.
“I had a few bruises from him pushing me down and me trying to stop him, you know!” Ruby said.
When I asked if she told anyone, she shook her in repudiation. When I asked why, she sighed and said, “I don’t know! Everyone is going to know! My parents will get involved. I will lose my freedom, you know? They’re not going to let me travel to Montreal again with my friends or travel alone ever. I won’t be able to go out or have any fun. I don’t want that to happen. Man, I just wanted it over with. I reached a point where I couldn’t fight him back and just wanted it over with…he took my virginity in the backseat of his car. I just now try not to think about it.”
Ruby, like many others, does not want to take her case to court out of fear of the repercussions.
Unfortunately, hearing all these stories from the students I spoke to did not give me answers; it only left me with more questions than I already had. Why should a person be ashamed or afraid of speaking up about being violated and sexually assaulted? Why aren’t we educating kids about this? Why aren’t we teaching about this in schools? Why does our government have a bigger war on weed than on rape? Why isn’t this a talk every parent has with their kid?
I tried discussing this topic with a few older people, and I was told multiple times by them that I was not in the right place to discuss this subject with them, and then told not to discuss it at all. Surprisingly, those same individuals do not get offended when I discuss stabbing, police brutality, gangs, racism, and drugs with them. Only when I discuss rape, I’m told to be quiet. Weird, eh?
We need to educate young people about consent before we educate them about sex. Individuals who do not understand consent should not have sexual relations. It is a positive matter that rape culture is a topic that is being discussed more often, but I do hope that it is not a trend that will come to an end. I hope the discussion of this topic continues, and change is made. We need a fundamental shift in the way the federal court handles sexual assault cases; the way these cases are being handled now are only deterring victims from seeking justice.
Rape and sexual assaults cannot and will not be brought to an end with absurd dress codes and some men of religion blurting out the “consequences” of premarital sex and being promiscuous. In order to combat sexual assault and rape culture, we all need to be active rather than bystanders and stand in solidarity with those victims.