It Can’t All Be On The Survivors
I’ve seen the following two things happen:
(1) someone gets sexually assaulted, whether raped or violated in another way, and people say to the survivor, “you have to do something! If you don’t do something, who will protect the next victim?”
(2) someone gets sexually assaulted, whether raped or violated in another way, and the survivor yells and shouts for people to deal with it, and the people who are friendly with both the survivor and the violator shrug their shoulders and try to stay “neutral.”
What these two things have in common is that in each case, the people around the situation place all the responsibility on the person who most needs help and can least be expected to go it alone.
…Confronting people is emotionally taxing, and it often irreparably ends the friendship. In fact, about something as serious as rape, it invariably irreparably alters the friendship. If you believe that your friend raped your other friend, and you say, “hey, you raped my friend,” then the old friendship is gone forever as soon as the words leave your mouth. What remains is either enmity, or a relationship of holding someone accountable, just as tough and taxing as staying friends with a substance abuser who is trying to get clean and sober. That’s not easy. That’s a lot of work, and most people are not up for it.
The option most people choose, because it gets them out of that, is to choose to not make up their minds about what happened…
…Just think about that. ”Hey, you’re still friends with Boris. But X said Boris raped her.” ”Well yeah, but I don’t know what to believe.” ”Well, but you know what Y said, and Y’s account was a lot like X’s.” ”Yeah, but I don’t know what to believe.” ”But Z said Boris violated consent, too, and that’s three people …” “Well, I’ve been friends with Boris a long time, so I kind of don’t know what to think …” (Trust me when I tell you, folks, I’m not making that up.)
What can you do tomorrow? Don’t let your communities do that shit. Hold your friends to a higher standard.