Here’s the thing.
If another person sexually assaulted you, it’s not your fault.
No matter what you were wearing, who you were with, or how you were dancing, if someone sexually assaulted you, it is not your fault.
If someone drugged you and sexually assaulted you, it is not your fault, even if you left your drink unattended.
If someone is trying to tell you that it was your fault in some way, look to different people to support you.
If you have sexually assaulted someone, you are responsible for that action and the harm it caused.
If you have sexually assaulted someone thinking that what they were wearing or who they were with or how they were dancing made it OK, you were wrong, and you are responsible for that action and the harm it caused.
If you drugged someone in order to have sex with them or had sex with them when they were visibly drunk or passed out, that is rape, and you are responsible for your actions and the harm it caused.
Here’s another thing.
I believe survivors.
Less than 8 percent of all sexual assault reports are false. It is actually more likely for a male person to be a survivor of sexual assault than to be falsely accused of it.
The courage it takes a person who has survived a sexual assault to come forward is daunting. It is too often true that they are met with disbelief, either outright or subtle implication that it was their fault in some way, and a system where less than 3 percent of rapists ever spend even a day in jail.
If you are a survivor and having sexual assault details front and center in the news is triggering you or causing you any anxiety, there is help.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) www.rainn.org, has many articles about self-care emotionally and physically during this time.
If you need to speak with someone, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673) or you can chat online at https://safehelpline.org.
For resources in Spanish, go here: https://www.rainn.org/es
Need local support? Go to https://www.kcsarc.org or call -888-99-VOICE (888-998-6423) to contact the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.
If someone discloses to you:
• Believe them.
• Assure them it is not their fault.
• Tell them they are not alone.
• Ask if they are open to seeking medical attention and offer to go with them if they would like that. Giving choice at a time when choice has been taken from them is important.
• Let them know this doesn’t change how you feel about them.
• Get help for yourself.
Because here’s the thing. If someone sexually assaulted you, it’s not your fault.
Amy Johnson, MSW, is a trainer and educator in the Pacific Northwest. She is co-author of three books and facilitates classes and workshops in the Puget Sound area. Amy specializes in sexuality education and in promoting safe and healthy sexuality culture in faith communities. All opinions are her own. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.