TW: Sexual Assault, Biphobia
Long-term Victim Blaming & why it sucks especially bad for Bisexual women.
This post refers explicitly to women and femmes who have been victim to sexual violence from men. There are some very different things male & masculine victims have to deal with, when violence comes from other genders. Also women and femmes who are victims of violence from other women, deal with even less understood/talked about effects.
Most people are aware of victim blaming that comes up shortly after a traumatic event where sexual violence is reported.
“What was she wearing?”
“Why didn’t she fight back?”
“Why did she leave it so long to report it?”
“Why was she so quick to report it? She must be doing it for attention/money.”
“She must have led him on.”
All of these things are hurtful, damaging and designed to put the blame on victims, and deter other victims (regardless of gender) from coming forward. But what is not often considered or spoken of, is the effect of long-term victim blaming.
“She said she was raped, but she’s out there going to clubs!”
“Her boyfriend’s in prison for attacking her, but look at her kissing someone else!”
“How can she be so happy, after what she said happened? She must be a liar!”
“She ruined his life by reporting him for sexual assault! Now she’s always smiling in photos!”
The above examples all reinforce a nasty myth: once something bad (sexually) happens to a woman, she must remain in mourning for the rest of her life. No smiles, no sex, no new relationships (especially not lesbian or bisexual ones). It also plays into the myth of the ‘Almighty Dick of Power.’ And of how it can affect you permanently. This is the same myth that states “One dick can turn a queer woman straight!”
The truly sad thing is, many women believe these myths too.
“How can you go out to a party/Wear that short dress/Talk about positive sex? Do you want to be assaulted again?”
And when these women are lesbians, it sometimes colours their view of bisexual women and other lesbians who have been raped/sexually assaulted too. The “Almighty Dick” means that if you’ve been with one man, consensual or not, you’re tainted for life. The Almighty Dick is partnered with the Gold Star Lesbian.
Bisexual women have higher rates of sexual assault than either straight women or lesbians. See Bisexuality Report 2011, Open University. https://bisexualresearch.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/the-bisexualityreport.pdf But when long-term victim blaming is aimed at us, we have few places to turn to. Racism, Fatphobia and Disability definitely makes things worse, as respectability politics comes into play as well.
As a bisexual femme, and survivor of multiple rapes and 20 years of sexual abuse, I implore EVERYONE to think before they say hurtful things like the above. I still have nightmares & flashbacks to awful things that happened to me, both as a child and an adult. Biphobia is toxic, just as victim blaming is toxic. If I have fun or wear a short dress, it doesn’t mean all the hurt has gone away. It doesn’t mean I was lying or exaggerating about my experiences. You have the power to make the world less shit for me. For God’s sake, do the right thing.