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What responsibility does the victim bear?

By Scott Tibbs, April 17, 2008

Imagine that a female student at Indiana University gets to know someone through Facebook, meets that individual in person and then allows that person to stay in her dorm room on the same day they meet in person for the first time. When she wakes up, her "friend" is gone and has taken $300 in cash and her iPod. would you say she was foolish, or would that be blaming the victim? Would it be misogynistic to say she was foolish?

The crime that took place in the real story was different. A female IU student allegedly woke up to find that Facebook "friend" sexually molesting her, physically restraining her and groping her. Unlike a previous questionable story, I don't have any reason to believe what she alleges is not true.

There's no excuse for what the man allegedly did. He bears 100% responsibility for this despicable and cowardly act, and should be harshly punished by the criminal justice system. Nonetheless, the victim unnecessarily put herself into a vulnerable position This case should be a lesson to both women and men that they need to take steps to ensure their own safety. In a perfect world, this would not be the case, but we live in a fallen world corrupted by sin. No one "deserves" to be victimized, but we are all responsible for the safety of our persons.

The analogy in the first paragraph is clumsy: $300 in cash and an iPod is replaced easily enough, but the trauma of a sexual assault can stay with someone for a lifetime. There's no question that, morally speaking, sexual assault is exponentially worse than a property crime. But the point I am trying to make is that if the crime had been theft instead of sexual assault, no one would think twice about questioning the victim's discernment.

Each year at Take Back the Night, one of the chants is "Whatever I wear, wherever I go, yes means yes and no means no." The truth of this statement is unquestionable, but I believe it does women a disservice to criticize educational efforts aimed at improving self-preservation. And prevention goes both ways, because men need to learn that they have a responsibility before a righteous God to respect and honor women.