Victim Blaming 101

“I love when people say they’re not victim blaming, right before they blame the victim.” Roger Canaff, former special victims prosecutor.

One Chele‏@OneChele

So you go to the apartment of a strange man in foreign country alone??? No. Ma’am. #DatesfromHell on @DiscoveryID

11 JulK. Potts‏@afbwoman

@OneChele Not the full story. Don’t victim blame. A woman should be able to trust she won’t be attacked by an animal

11 JulOne Chele‏@OneChele

Never blaming victim, but best not to put oneself in that situation if possible.@afbwoman

K. Potts @afbwoman

@OneChele Please read my site. Get more info. But this poster sums up my view: …

I am going to guess that Michele Grant never thought the victim featured in the crime show she just watched would see her insensitive tweet. She probably never thought I’d catch her being the kind of person who thinks I need her review of my assault and her opinion. I know if it was me who had done that, I’d feel embarrassed and hope I’d have the humility to cease commenting on a topic I had just demonstrated little knowledge about. I am equally sure that though she ceased her tweets to me, she most certainly was reading my feed and responses, especially the ones Roger and I tag-teamed on to the worst offenders. After all that, one would think Michele would have had the decency to read a bit more about me because, you know, only the foolish would watch a dramatized crime show and take it as gospel. And if she had no interest in reading my blog to learn that I have lived my truth, fought like hell and put the responsibility of taking Marco off the street square on my shoulders for me and women like Michele, maybe she’d just look into victim blaming before claiming that she does not victim blame. (The tweets above are Victim Blaming 101, in case you were wondering what it looks like.)

She could have gone here. Or looked at this which succinctly explains victim blaming:

“One reason people blame a victim is to distance themselves from an unpleasant occurrence and thereby confirm their own invulnerability to the risk. By labeling or accusing the victim, others can see her as different from themselves.  People reassure themselves by thinking, “Because I am not like her, because I do not do that, this would never happen to me…Victim-blaming attitudes only work to marginalize the victim and make it harder for her to come forward and report the abuse/assault. If she knows that you or society blames her for the abuse/assault, she will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward and talking to you.”

Victim-blaming attitudes also reinforce that it is the victim’s fault this is happening. It is NOT the victim’s fault or responsibility; it is the abuser/rapist’s choice. By engaging in victim-blaming attitudes, society allows the abuser/rapist to perpetrate violence while avoiding accountability for his actions.

Or maybe she’d have even read this and be concerned that rapists are somehow able to not only rape women, but then get women to help them escape justice. It’s as simple as women saying, “Yeah, that’s terrible what happened to her, BUT…” Rapists count on them every day for jury pools.

She could have done these things to challenge what she thinks she knows and turned it into a great, eye-opening blog for her readers because we all make mistakes and say dumb things. She could have asked, “Why was my first comment on the matter a condemnation of the victim and not the perpetrator?”

But no, this self-described “thinker” instead used her blog to justify her comments to me and feel better about herself in as thoughtless a manner as I can fathom. Using my story as an example, and ignoring important context I asked her to find at my site so she’d know my heart is with overseas prosecution and helping victims understand what to do, she subtly absolved herself of victim blaming by engendering a conversation about how black women would be less likely to be as trusting (read: stupid) as I was because of their life experiences and would know better than to put themselves in the situation I did. She must be unaware black women are victimized at a rate slightly higher than white women rendering her premise moot. I certainly won’t try to write about the life experiences of black women because I am not qualified. But as a victim who knows the subject of sexual assault very well, I can tell you exactly what Michele did that is disturbing and dangerous: She and she alone created a haven at her blog for the ugliest, most ignorant kinds amongst us to taunt, vilify, degrade and harm victims. She handed them a virtual megaphone by setting up the conversation with this victim blaming paragraph:

“There’s stuff I just don’t do. I don’t walk to my car alone at night. I don’t jog alone at night. I don’t get drunk without a designated driver/watcher/exit strategy. I never go on a date with someone new without letting folks know where I’m going to be and who I’m going to be with. If I’m alone in an elevator with someone I get a hinky vibe from, I get off and wait for the next one. I don’t ride in strange people’s cars. If I’m at a house I’ve never been to, I check for the exits. Lookie here, I don’t play. I don’t know if that’s a female thing, a lessons learned thing or a black thing.”

It is victim-blaming because it implies people who don’t do all of those things are inviting attack, and it is nothing less than appalling. I know this, because I used to do the same thing years ago when I thought I was somehow better than women who don’t take those “precautions.” I stopped reading the comments section after the first 10 posts, it was that toxic. I am told the comments section blew up with one terrible comment after another and some decent folks trying to inject truth that all of them, were in fact, blaming victims for the crimes against them in some warped court of judgment where they believe they get to evaluate assault for the percentage of responsibility. Michele later wrote this: “I was trying to start a commentary, not a war but the comments went another direction.” Is she actually surprised by this?

Michele must not know that 1 in 6 of her female readers are victims of sexual assault in their lifetime. Any victim who has followed Michele’s career, her blog or purchased any of the books she has written, found no ally in her or her site that day. And I find that absolutely heartbreaking. If any of them were hanging on by a thread, scared that people would say these exact things to them if they came forward, or sought her posts for something good to look forward to in their suffering, she helped to crush them underfoot.

Michele, I ask you to contact the brand new Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center and visit them. Perhaps you bring a copy of your post with you, and sit with some of the victims there to tell them why they were careless and shoulder some responsibility for the crimes committed against them. Explain to their faces what you mean and why you think you should be able to tell a victim “it’s best not to put oneself in that scenario.” Or maybe you sit with a rape crisis counselor and ask his opinion on what you wrote and the conversation that ensued. If that doesn’t appeal to you, I’ll be in Dallas for business the next two months. Let’s meet and you can ask me anything. It just might be the best post you’ve ever written and the most powerful.

You quoted your father as saying, “Ain’t nothing open after midnight but liquor stores and legs.” From where I am sitting, there are two kinds of people where sexual assault is concerned, and two only. There are those who align themselves with victims and those who align themselves with rapists and perpetuate rape culture. I have made damn clear which side I am on. Which side are you on, Michele?

P.S. For a Dallas Morning News article on this very topic taking place right now in Dallas, read this.

P.P.S. :

Much thanks to Melissa Soalt for sharing this with me.

3 thoughts

  1. Well, well, @OneChele- aren’t YOU special? lol You know that ‘if it was me who had done that, I’d feel embarrassed and hope I’d have the humility to cease…’ Done WHAT, Ms. Chele? Shoulda, coulda, woulda comes so easily in the aftermath of rape. You are not insinuating that a victim feels RIGHTFULLY humiliated are you? That is the whole point of rape, you fool! You are not really writing books on the subject of rape are you? THAT is truly disturbing, sista! You need help for your deep seeded problems….

  2. Keri I am sorry that you are being blamed and judged for being attacked and I think you are incredibly brave for sharing your story and continuing to fight back – it is just a shame that now the attackers are women. We all see stories everyday about people being assaulted, attacked, raped, shot and so on – many times by people they know and trust.

    Bottom line, you told Marco NO. He didn’t care, he attacked. You escaped. You are sharing your story, helping others try and find courage to share theirs, but after reading Michele’s blog I can see why victims chose to keep their attacks themselves. I am glad there are women like you out there Keri, sharing your story, educating people on Victim Blaming and creating a conversation to help other victims come forward.

    Keep fighting back Keri.

  3. I love this quote from Nicole Valliere, PhD. “No one is vulnerable to sexual violence unless a person near them means them harm.”

    It’s about the perp.

    And then there’s this: The presence of danger always exists.

    I sent the info about this appalling and reckless online attack along with my retort to a number of self defense colleagues. Got some great comments back. Upshot of one woman’s story is this: “You know why rape happens? Because there is a rapist in the room.”

Leave a Reply to Ruth Wilson Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s