Don’t be a Victim

The Media in Dallas has all been abuzz over remarks made by Police Chief David Brown to City Council  members.  Those comments were made during a  Public Safety Committee meeting while speaking about a reported 25 percent spike in sexual assaults so far this year compared to the same period last year. He pointed out that a lot of those assaults are connected to alcohol use and date rape.

In putting forth the department’s plan to address this increase he said they are considering a public-education campaign urging women to exercise extra caution when going out with someone new, to be careful about drinking too much in those situations or to always have a trusted, sober friend present.

During the meeting a reporter from the Dallas Observer   was doing a live feed to his blog and  reported that the Chief was blaming women for sexual attacks. Later in the week, Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow, came to the Chief’s defense saying this idea was no different than public safety campaigns to encourage people to lock their homes and cars and don’t leave valuables in cars.

Blow was taken to task by letter writers who said that he was supporting the idea that women are to blame for sexual assaults and rape. Beth Newman, dirctor of Women’s and Gender Studies at SMU, wrote, “A public education campaign emphasizing the responsibility of women to protect themselves merely reinforces the idea that a man’s taking advantage of an “opportunity” to rape is to be expected.”

In response to that letter, another  woman wrote, “No woman drunk or sober ever deserves to be raped, even if she is dancing naked on a tabletop in a room full of convicted serial rapists. However, I would never advise my daughter to allow herself to get drunk while on a date with a man she barely knows.”

This controversy has really resonated with me because I was assaulted once. And I was not the least bit offended by Chief Brown’s comments. To me, what he was saying was, be careful that you don’t make yourself prey. Rapists are looking for every opportunity to take advantage of a vulnerable person. Do what you can to make sure you are not that person. 

That isn’t blaming the victim. 

7 thoughts on “Don’t be a Victim”

  1. I agree with you, Maryann. It sounds like he was just giving some advice on how to avoid situations where a person could put herself in harm’s way.

  2. Women shouldn’t be raped. Period. Regardless of what they’re doing and how. (Same goes for men and children.)

    As the mother of a rape victim, I understand the outrage of those who haven’t found justice and those who will not find it when the guilty either aren’t punished or aren’t punished to the extent they deserve.

    On the other hand, many [young] women are naive and inexperienced and do not realize that certain behavior makes them vulnerable. If the chief’s warning make just one woman realize she could help herself become less vulnerable, I say his comments were well worth it.

  3. It’s odd that the mother who wrote that she would advise her daughter to be careful was giving the same advice as the police officer. Yet she seemed to imply that his advice was putting blame on the woman. No woman should ever be raped. Period. The police can’t be everywhere and we have to look out for ourselves. That’s true whether we’re talking rape, burglary, any crime.

  4. I don’t think he was laying responsibility on women. He was saying be careful, be smart. What help would he have been to come out and say the obvious, that the perpetrator is the one responsible? Well, duh…but they aren’t listening to him.

  5. In terms of understanding the Chief’s remarks it is important to know that he was not making a formal presentation of the Departments plan to address the issue. He was responding extemporaneously to a question. So I don’t think he was intentionally ignoring the fact that the full burden of guilt for rape rests with the perpetrator, not the victim. He was just running an idea by them.

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