The Dangers Of “It’s Not Your Fault”

I’ve been taking a break from blogging for the past week.  I read an article that really challenged how I viewed the healing process.

The advocates and counselors have great intentions, but there is one lie that I believe keeps us from the true healing we seek.

The timeline of a victim goes something like this:

Attack.

Thousands of internal questions all centered around how it was your fault.

Maybe telling someone about the supposed attack you endured that was most likely 100% your fault.

Reading and researching- basically an insatiable thirst for a definition of what happened to you.

FInally getting in contact with someone who has “experience” and can give you some answers.

The answers you so desperately searched for can all be summed up in:

“It’s not at all your fault.”

 

And that’s what the mantra seems to be.  The end-all answer.  We get these analogies like, “If I walk down the street naked, and someone says I was asking for it, then if you walk down the street without a helmet, I can hit you with a hammer.  You asked for it.”

And we are constantly reassured that we had absolutely zero blame in the situation.  No matter if we were drunk, high, blacked out, married, gave consent before, sexting all the time, leading the guy on, flirting, wearing a mini-skirt, came on to him, whatever.  It was absolutely 100% not our fault.

And, honestly, that’s true.

But, it’s also caused victims a huge obstacle.  Well-meaning advocates create this apparent fantasy world for victims to live in.  One where they are totally perfect, and  just victim to a horrible monster.  One where they can drink, do drugs, walk around half-naked, and be told it’s perfectly acceptable behavior.  There’s a clear good guy and bad guy.

But, here’s the problem.  Victims aren’t stupid.

We live in the real world.  We analyze it and over-analyze it every day.  We read people.  We know better than anyone that people have a light side and a dark side.  That nobody is 100% angel or demon.

Then the guilt seeps in.  We get this message of, “You’re not to blame” shoved down our throats so often, that we believe in order to be a “real” victim, you actually have to not be at fault.   For anything.

At.

All.

Which creates a vicious cycle.  If you believe a true victim is spotless, and you were not spotless, then the only logical conclusion is that you are not a true victim.  That it was, in fact, your fault.  That you did deserve it.

So we hide.  We hide from the world and our family and friends.  We hide the truth, and never speak about it.  We develop this fear of being found out.  This fear that we already told the world about our “incident” and garnered sympathy, but it’s all just a lie.

We get depressed feeling like we’re alone in this.  LIke we’re a pretend victim doing a disservice to the real ones.  The advocacy groups are declaring that victims bear zero responsibility.  The guys who are experts in this.  The ones with the answers.

But you know you made bad decisions.  Drank too much vodka.  Smoked too much weed.  Stuck around after the 18th apology.  The list goes on.

So, ironically, in trying to bring about healing, we’ve only erected a giant wall.  A wall we have to start tearing down.  And the only way to do that is to admit, and take responsibility for, the bad decisions.

It’s scary.  But it’s so, so freeing.

So freeing, in fact, that I’m sharing mine with you.  I don’t want you to be alone in this anymore.  We have to stop being afraid to admit our flaws, and to admit that they are, indeed, flaws.

1.  I kept going back.  Yep.  After every apology.

2. I knew he had issues.  Drugs.  Other women.  Alcohol.

3. I got in the car.  Even though I knew what would happen.

4. I just laid there.  He said he would rape me if I resisted.  So I stopped resisting.

5.  I didn’t know it was rape.  I didn’t.  I thought it was just uncomfortable.  I didn’t know it was even wrong until someone else brought it up.

 

So, there it is.  My list.  I know other people might have drinking, drugs, and prostitution on theirs.  Maybe they were a sleep-around Jane.  Or maybe they watched porn.  Or came on to him.  Or kissed him.

But, there’s one thing I can guarantee won’t be on anyone’s list.

“I attacked myself.”

Nope.  That won’t be there.  It can’t be.  You didn’t do it.

You made some bad decisions.  Maybe even awful decisions.  You could have broken the law or committed a deadly sin.

But one thing is for sure.

You.  Did.  Not.  Rape.  Yourself.

And that’s freeing.  Truly freeing.  Knowing you can admit every single flaw and mistake from that night, or year, or decade, and know in all of it, you did not attack yourself.  That was him.  (or her).

If he wrote his list, the attack would be on it.  Among all those other flaws and mistakes.  Among the lies and deceit and control.  The attack is on his list.

His.

We need to start letting victims take some responsibility.  Let them admit what they did wrong, and the bad decisions they made.  Let them talk about how not getting blackout drunk may have prevented their attack.

Let them because it’s the truth.  And the truth is the only thing that can set us free.

It doesn’t make it your fault.  If you hadn’t gotten wasted, he would have found someone else who had.  He would have raped them.  That’s what rapists do.  You may have prevented yourself from being a victim, but you wouldn’t have prevented him from victimizing someone.

That’s on him.

 

 

 

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Blue Sky says:

    This is such a wise post, well written, and filled with true compassion. The truth is what will set us free!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s very encouraging considering it got some backlash in a support group I joined. Mostly because they didn’t read beyond the title, but I’m glad you read it and saw what I was going for

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Just read this again, very profound. Again I thank you for your courage and honesty. I believe the Lord is opening your eyes and speaking to your spirit the truth, his truth, which is always freeing, healing and loving. I know he will continue to use you to help many others. That which could have destroyed you has become a powerful weapon for good. YOU are now the expert- not those with the letters behind their names. Sorry if I sound Iike a preacher but I am one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol thank you preacher. I do believe He has opened my eyes to a few truths. I think at the center of a victim’s obstacle from healing is fear of the truth. We’re afraid the truth might confirm our fears, so we avoid it and call it healing. But the truth never condemns. Only frees us. It’s amazing what you can understand when you ask for understanding.

      Like

  3. angelakempe says:

    I really liked this post. I wrote a memoir about my experience, lupin (www.thelupinhouse.org) and at first I wrote my perpetrator to be pretty much a monster. Then after about ten years of editing I came to realize a lot and the end result was that he was a sociopath that didn’t know how to love me. But I wouldn’t have stayed with him if it were all bad. I think it made for a better book in the end. Keep strong and keep writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve taken a break from writing lately but I want to get back into it. I will definitely check out your book! It sounds similar to my situation

      Liked by 1 person

  4. maryfraughton says:

    Thanks for putting this so succinctly. There’s ground between owning your actions and blaming yourself for someone else’s that I think is really valuable to explore.
    This isn’t a properly formed thought yet, but I also think there’s a danger in the “It’s absolutely not my fault in any way” attitude because it can make us seem so much more helpless and lacking in agency than we actually are (and at a time when we already feel quite helpless. No, I probably couldn’t have stopped the guy who hurt me, but I also don’t just wander through the world having stuff happen to me at random. I take actions and those actions have positive and negative consequences that I sometimes see coming and sometimes don’t.
    More to your point, though, the way I framed it after what happened to me was, “I did stupid; he did bad. My stupid does not negate his bad, but his bad doesn’t erase my stupid.”
    I’m not necessarily advocating that for anyone else, but it was helpful for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE how you put that- “I did stupid, he did bad.” It’s the basis of so many frustrations for victims. And we can’t just live in denial and call it healing, or demand that the world not hurt us anymore. I wish we could give an honest voice to victims where they could admit their own faults without being condemned for blaming themselves. Thats the only thing that would bring true healing

      Like

      1. maryfraughton says:

        I think a big part of healing is coming to a nuanced understanding of what happened and why (and also maybe coming to peace with the bits you may never understand – I’m thinking here of his motivations, etc). You don’t come to that understanding by ignoring a bunch of stuff.
        I still think we can gently guide people away from assuming too MUCH blame, but we need to do that without going, “No, shhhh” when they talk about things they wish they’d done differently. Listening, rather than shushing, is really valuable.
        Also, though: blogging has been incredibly useful to me…it’s really great to run into someone else using this kind of platform to dissect these things.

        Like

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