I have to write about something that greatly disturbed me.

I read this on the blog of someone who posts here. The writer is a new wmtc commenter, and I enjoy her posts, and in no way am I trying to single her out for disapproval or contempt. To that end, I'm not linking back to her post or mentioning her by name. If she wants to do that, she can; I'll just keep it anonymous.

Many months ago, I blogged about something similar, after overhearing something at the gym.

In this case, the writer was talking about things she now does that she used to be afraid of. One of these is bicycling home from work late at night.
If anyone would have told me a few years ago that I would be riding my bicycle home from work at one o'clock in the morning, I would've said, "No way. I'll be raped." But in reality, crime usually happens to criminals. Drug dealers and gang members shooting each other. The cab driver tried to frighten me the other night by telling me that there were recently some stabbings down by the river. Turns out it was homeless people stabbing each other. And I am blessed with a gut instinct, like we all are, and I think it will stand me in good stead.
This is a common misconception: crime usually happens to criminals. Good instincts can keep you safe. For the millions of people who have survived violent crime (as I have), or worse still, those who loved people not lucky enough to survive, this can be very painful - or enraging - to hear.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone: male, female; old, young; good, bad; drunk, sober; upstanding citizen, underworld criminal. While it's true that many victims of sexual assault know their assailants, it's equally true that what is called "acquaintance rape" is still a crime. And a good 50% (give or take) of rape victims do not know their assailants - i.e., "stranger rape". (I hesitate to use these expressions because they imply there are different kinds of rape. All the expressions mean is whether or not the victim knew the assailant.) Children who are sexually abused are also crime victims - and obviously, they are not criminals.

Again, I'm not singling out the person who I'm quoting. Most people want to believe that victims cause their own victimization. "She did such-and-such, that's why she was raped. I won't do that, so it won't happen to me." If only it were that simple. All we'd have to do was avoid "bad" neighbourhoods, not wear certain clothing, not go out alone at night, not whatever. But rape victims don't cause rape: rapists do.

What we call "gut instinct" is just a feeling. Someone feels safe, so she believes she is. Someone feels nervous and jumpy, and she believes she is unsafe. Gut instinct is not a rapist detector. Those don't exist. All the rape survivors in the world, male and female, didn't lack gut instinct. They were just unlucky.

If crime usually happens to criminals, then all we have to do is not commit crimes, and crimes probably won't be committed against us. As for people who have committed crimes, if they become victims, well, who cares. The drug dealer who was killed, the prostitute who was raped - they were asking for it anyway, right?

I applaud anyone who finds new courage, who puts aside fear and moves into the unknown. I don't want anyone to live in fear. I sure don't, and I'm a rape survivor myself. But when we take pride in our own growth, let's not make assumptions about other people's experiences.

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