Photo: the Italian voice via flickr
When a sexual assault hotline operator took to Reddit two days ago to reveal her experiences working with rape victims, her responses spawned a lengthy discussion about why rape victims blame themselves and why she, and others who deal with such serious crimes, often joke about such a serious subject.NOTE: We can’t verify the identity of the operator – whose handle is Elephant_girl – or whether she’s real, but what she said sounds legitimate to us.
How do you reassure a rape victim that it wasn’t their fault?
“99% of the people I talk to think it was their fault in some way. I repeat multiple times that they didn’t do anything wrong, and no one has the right to touch them without their consent, no matter the circumstances. Sadly, I’m not believed very often. Rape victims have a huge sense of false shame and guilt.”
Elephant_girl’s response struck a cord with user Derelicte85, whose friend was going through a similar situation.
“Convincing that person they were not at fault was incredibly difficult,” Derelicte85 wrote. “Most common phrase I heard ‘if I didn’t put myself in that position…it wouldn’t have happened.”
The most vehement response came from SpermJackalope, a self-identified former rape victim.
“You have the absolute right to walk down the middle of the bar street in downtown, buck naked, with a joint in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, lie down outside a bar smoking and drinking, and no one has ANY right to touch you sexually.”
Have you ever doubted a rape victim’s story?
“Yes, sometimes I hear really strange shit. I have to treat it like it’s real, though, unless it’s obvious that it’s not. A lot of the people I work with tend to place their hardest calls in the “prank” category, because it’s easier on them to believe that the horrible thing they just heard about didn’t really happen.”
“I talked to a woman who said she had been sex trafficked, raped, sexually assaulted, and sexually abused. All in one breath. Later it became clear she was on some sort of drugs. I have no idea what really happened.”
The discussion turned to why hotline operators, abortion doctors, and anyone else who deals with the darker elements of life, feel the need to joke about it.
“I make way more rape jokes than I should. I like to think that it’s OK, because they’re not made out of ignorance, and I do help victims every day,” elephant_girl wrote.
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