The Last Thing Sexual Assault Victims Need to Hear
Yesterday, we came across Facebook user Kaye Domingo's post about how a man in his 40s or 50s sexually abused her inside the bus while she was on her way to school.
Reading it felt like sitting next to the man and experiencing the horrible things he was doing to his victim—groping her breast under her bra, rubbing her down there, and making her rub his crotch among many other sick things! We felt just as helpless as Kaye who was unable to move or say anything out of fear.
Traumatized as she was, she knew she needed to share it with everyone especially with those who are commuting to school or work daily. Unfortunately, her well-meaning post was met with a lot of hate and negative criticism. And by "a lot," we mean A WHOLE LOT! Almost 95% of the comments either blamed, bashed, and judged her, made a joke of her experience, or gave unsolicited advice—basically almost all the things a sexual harrassment victim doesn't ever want to hear.
Blaming the victim isn't limited to just literally saying, "It's all your fault" or in Kaye's case, "Nagawa mo pang makatulog ng ilang beses" or "Grabe hinayaan pa n'ya kaloka." It comes in many forms, spoken or otherwise. Asking a rape victim, "What were you wearing?" or "What could you have done to arouse him?" are just a few of the more indirect ways of doing so. Although most of these questions are asked to try make sense of the situation, it comes off as if it was all the victim's fault that such horrible things were done to her.
- Unsolicited advice
"Kung ako sayo ate, lumipat ka nalang sana ng seat malapit sa harap or bumaba ka na. Ikaw nalang sana ung umiwas!"
"Alam mo ate, kung ako ang nasa sitwasyon mo, hindi magiging ganyan ang reaksyon ko."
Kaye's post had a lot of comments like these. The thing with these "kung ako sayo" comments is they do more harm than good to the victim. The sexual abuse already happened and unless you want the victim to feel that she brought it upon herself to be touched without her consent, there's no use in telling the victim what she should've done.
"Kaya hindi natututo mga manyakis dahil sa inyong mga tangang biktima. Pasikat kayo sa FB eh, post-post pa kayo."
Attacking someone based on your opinions of her is just so wrong on so many levels. If celebs or other popular personalities who live in a world that supposedly comes with bashers aren't immune to the severe criticism, then how much more a regular persona (and a victim of sexual assault at that!) who is still reeling from the crippling experience.
"Tanga ka. Hinimas-himas ka na, di ka pumalag. Nasarapan ka din kaya hinayaan mo lang."
"Ang sabihin mo, nagustuhan mo lang ang ginawa sayo!"
A victim of sexual violation has already a lot of things to deal with. Aside from coming to terms with what and why it happened, there are a lot of other things going through her mind, too. The most we can do is spare her of judgments and be mindful of the things that we say or post, especially if you've never experienced what it's really like to be in her shoes.
Making jokes, sarcastic remarks, memes, and worse, parody videos of a sexually abused victim's experience may entertain a few, but to the victim, it amplifies the damage that's already been done. Anyone who does this is no different from the abuser.
It's easy to say or think that you've got it all figured out—that you won't let Kaye's experience happen to you. Or that when it happens to you, you know exactly what to do. But the truth is, try as we may, we won't ever be prepared for situations like this. And we shouldn't have to if all human beings were decent and didn't do horrible things, encourage such behavior, or blame the victim (and never the abuser) for her circumstance.