Violence Towards Sexual Assailants

Violence Towards Sexual Assailants

cw: rape, sexual assault, violence

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Folks, especially men: when you hear about sexual assault or rape, your first response should not be to threaten violence.

“I’d kill a rapist” is something that we frequently hear from loud, male feminists as a knee-jerk response to hearing about sexual violence. Offers to fight an assailant, creative threats of violence, etc – they all show up as soon as some folks hear about sexual assault.

What that tells victims and survivors is that your desire to act violently is more important than their needs and emotions. It does not make us feel safe or protected. It reminds us that violence is your go-to reaction when something terrible happens.

If a person tells that that they’ve been assaulted, ask them what they need from you. Maybe she wants to talk. Maybe he needs your support as he deals with the trauma, or goes through the legal nightmare of trying to report and prosecute his assailant. Maybe they feel unsafe, and want you to spend more time around them. Ask them. She might not know what she wants – that’s okay too. Remind her about the loving support system she has, and ask her if someone else might be able to fulfill her needs. Be his advocate if he cannot speak (and wants you to speak for him). Be caring. Do not, DO NOT threaten violence as your first response.

Some people might want you to be violent towards their assaulter. They’ve been raped, and now they feel angry. They want him to hurt. I am in no way personally advocating for violence as a response under any circumstance, but if a person comes to you, tells you they’ve has been raped or assaulted, and brings up their own violent responses, only then can you JOIN that conversation. Do not initiate the “let’s attack your assaulter” conversation. In the best case, your friend, a person who has just suffered trauma, has to DEFEND the person who hurt them by saying “no, no you’ll get arrested, no that’s a bad idea, don’t hurt them.” Don’t put a person in that situation. Don’t force them to defend their rapist. In the worst case, you will reveal yourself to also be a violent man, which is not necessarily the defender that a survivor wants to be close with at this time.

When you raise your voice louder than someone who has been assaulted, when you display an anger response that is disproportionate to the pain that you’re suffering as the friend of a survivor, you are doing it to indulge your own anger. You are not giving care and aid to someone who needs it. Listen. Let them tell you what they needs. Listen. Listen.

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