Why I’ll never forgive myself for slut-shaming someone I love

End Slut Shaming: Liora K Photography. For more of Liora's work go to: https://www.facebook.com/LioraKPhotography

End Slut Shaming: Liora K Photography. For more of Liora’s work go to: https://www.facebook.com/LioraKPhotography

*WARNING: This post deals with sexual assault/rape and may be upsetting to survivors of abuse*

I try to live my life as a good person: a good wife; a good mother; a good sister; a good daughter; a good friend.

Sometimes – even on the days when I’m cranky, bone-tired or stressed – I try to be excellent at all those, too, because I know so many intelligent, loving, generous, adventurous, creative and (all-round) awesome people. And they deserve nothing less than the very best.

But sometimes even someone with the best of intentions can drop the ball.  Even worse, they can make a hideous, shameful, hurtful mistake; one they can’t possibly take back.

When I was a teenager, someone I love was hurt in one of the worst possible ways. She was going through a break-up with a long-term boyfriend; a difficult process, despite the fact he was a jerk and nowhere near good enough for her. Like always, she was taking the shit in her stride. She was so brave and strong – not willing to let it get the best of her – that she didn’t think twice about going to his home to finally settle things.

That’s when the good-for-nothing shitbag forced himself on her. The useless fucking excuse for a human being took advantage of her kindness and trust to do the worst to her.

But the real disgrace lies with me, and the other people who failed to properly support her the way she needed to be.

There is no excuse; I was a teenager but I should have known better. I loved her and knew that she was hurting, surely that should have been enough to act?

It was. But I failed her.

Instead, I listened to the ridiculous questions being thrown around by all who knew of the disgusting assault.

 Are you sure it was rape? I mean, what was she wearing? Maybe he just got the wrong impression. They used to have sex before, after all. She’s probably just confused about what happened.

 

As a 27-year-old woman, I know this sort of slut-shaming rhetoric rates a 30+ on the Richter Scale of Bullshit; that it is advice that should be recompensed with a healthy dose of waterboarding.

I know now that rape is rape.

There are no shades of rape: no better rapes or worse rapes; no almost-rapes or excusable rapes.

When a rapist decides to force themselves on someone and violate them sexually, nothing else matters. Nothing. The definition of rape doesn’t account for who the rapist is, what the victim is wearing or how they knew each other.

Rape is rape.

My teenage self didn’t know this. I foolishly listened to those around me, to the ridiculous victim-blaming culture that is still so prevalent in our society a decade later. I didn’t support her the way I should have, the way she deserved.

Thankfully she was big enough to forgive me on some level, something I don’t know if I’ll ever come to terms with myself. I can only write and hope that this fucking useless joke of an attitude towards victims of rape ends here. Now.

I loathe to bring my children up in a society where rape culture thrives, where teen boys consider it sporting to create a Rape Club (with an hilarious title like ‘Roast Busters’) in which they drug and gang rape barely teen-aged girls. What is equally abhorrent is the fact rape allegations had reportedly been raised with the boys’ school and the police to no avail.

Slut-shaming is arguably as ubiquitous as ever.

Last month two ADFA cadets were slapped with 12-month good behaviour bonds after violating a young colleagues’ rights by live-streaming video of her having sex with one of the men via Skype. After being betrayed and humiliated, the woman was then bullied and referred to by some people as “that Skype slut”.

Or there are the countless other recent examples: SteubenvilleDaisy Coleman in Maryville; the gang rapes in Cleveland, Texas; the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi.

And then there are guys like Dean Saxon, a University of Arizona student, who made a point of standing in public with a sign reading “YOU DESERVE RAPE”

"YOU DESERVE RAPE" - Photo courtesy of http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/

“YOU DESERVE RAPE” – Photo courtesy of http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/

It is little wonder countless rapes go unreported.

According to the Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA), only 14 per cent (1 in 7) of women sexually assaulted by a current partner and only 16 per cent (just over 1 in 6) by any other male reported (the crime) to the Police (Australian component of International Violence Against Women Survey,2004)

CASA also reports:

– 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually abused before the age of 16 (Fergusson & Mullen, 1999)

– 1 in 6 reports to Police of rape and less than 1 in 7 reports of incest or sexual penetration of a child result in prosecution (Sexual Offences: Law & Procedure Final Report, Victorian Law Reform Commission, 2004)*

Too often victims are shamed into believing they’ve somehow brought it on themselves. And when they’re strong and angry enough to speak of their rape to police, they’re forced to explain themselves time and time again. Often to little avail.

Why do we let these attitudes persist? We need to do something about it now. As parents. As daughters and sons. As friends.

If you or anyone else you know needs support, please contact the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit http://www.sexualassault.net.au/

 *These are presumably Victorian, rather than national, statistics.

If you want to contribute your thoughts, please feel free to join the discussion below. 

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  1. […] discovered them while writing about my own experience with slut shaming, and asked Liora what drove her to create such a powerful […]

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