We Should Not Be Asking That - Ever (The Barometer of Rape Culture in Australia)

I watched "You Can't Ask That" on ABC this morning - this recent episode featured survivors of sexual assault.

The questions they're asked are anonymous, and I want to "chime in" here with my two cents worth.

The questions being asked are a very clear barometer of where we are as a society in Australia. All the questions asked revolved around the actions of the survivor:

> What were you wearing?
> Were you drunk?
> Why did you get yourself in that situation?
> Did it ruin your life?
> Did you say No?
> There's no evidence, why should I believe you?
> What did the cops do?
> Are you sure it's not your fault?

Let me be VERY clear about something here: these are questions that place blame on the survivor, and this is NOT acceptable.

A survivor does not rape themselves.

It was done TO them, by someone else, and is never their fault.

> One of the survivors describes wearing a full-length skirt. Another flannelette pyjamas. It has nothing to do with what they were wearing.

> None of the survivors on this show said they were drunk. Many commented they actually chose to be sober after the assault.

> It is NEVER the survivor's fault for being raped and assaulted. As one survivor pointed out, if they had known that would happen, they absolutely would NOT have spent time the perpetrator.

> For many survivors, rape and sexual abuse does devastate their life. Not everyone recovers. Some people do commit suicide or become addicted to sex, drug and alcohol. Healing is a long process.

> Many survivors on the show said they CLEARLY said NO to their attacker. Not every survivor is able to - abuse can occur before we learn to speak as infants, or we are not in a position where we feel to safe to say No.

> All of the survivors commented that making up a story of rape is not something they would ever do, because it is incomprehensibly terrible. This is also where the burden of proof currently is with the survivor to prove rape, NOT on the perpetrator to prove consent.

> Every survivor had a different experience with law enforcement. Many had positive experiences, although it seems that these were the cases where there was an abundance of evidence physically available like hospital reports and witnesses. Not everyone has this experience and many are turned away for a lack of available evidence. This builds distrust.

> Do we really need to be asking this question? the survivor did not rape or assault themselves.


Ashleigh Rae