Inspired by threads here on “Alas” and on her own blog, Amanda has written an excellent post about victim-blaming and rape, including some well-researched advice:
*Austin is a relatively peaceful city, crime-wise, but we have an abnormally high rate of sexual assault due to being such a young city. (Last time I checked, our average age is 28.) As such, my friend who works in forensics spends a great deal of her time collecting evidence on sexual assault cases. I asked her once what she finds rapists look for most in victims and she said vulnerability–crossing your arms, looking away, hunching the shoulders and other body language that says that you are unsure of yourself. Her advice to women to avoid rape is to walk down the street, into rooms, everywhere like you own the place. Meet people’s eyes and let them know you know what they look like. She didn’t mention any specific places or situations to avoid.
*So, hard as it may be to believe, the best way to empower women to defend ourselves against rape is to teach girls not to be afraid of men and to be self-assured. If we keep telling girls that certain places or situations are off-limits, when they enter those situations they will immediately adopt the posture of a shrinking violet and attract rapists.
*But the #1 thing the books I read on the subject and my friend emphasized is that there is only one stance that should be taken when regarding victims–unwavering support and sympathy. BSU members who questioned victims go out of their way to support the choices made by the victim at the time of the crime–there were no lectures on being naive, and in fact choices that are generally characterized after the fact as somehow inviting rape are praised for what they are–being kind, being friendly, and being free. Rape is so prevalent that it leads to what hate crime expert Donald characterizes as a “massive dead-weight loss of freedom“. Telling a woman to curtail her freedom of movement and association due to rape is and will be taken as assisting the rapist in his job of terrorizing us.
That’s just a small sample – you should read the whole thing.