27 ‘Harmless’ Comments That Actually Hurt Sexual Assault Survivors

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1. “Are you sure you didn’t want it?”

“’You must’ve wanted it.’ ‘You just want attention.’ ‘Get over it.’ It hurt because everyone was so damn dismissive over what happened. I mean honestly, no, I won’t get over it. No, I didn’t want attention. And no, I didn’t ‘want it.’ Why must people assume that?” — Brittney H.

“’Maybe you enjoyed it?’ I was hurt, because it was hard for me to confess what really happened. I was shaking and stuttering while I talked. And all they could muster to say was, I ‘enjoyed it.’” — Meon L.

2. “Well, why didn’t you tell anyone or report it?”

“My sister once asked me why I never told anyone so they could do something about it. I found that question shaming to me. Like I was supposed to be able to understand what was happening to me, and what I was supposed to do about it.” — Charles H.

“’If it really happened, why didn’t you report it?‘ Because I was scared! And even now, after all these years, I’m afraid.” — Jodie A.

3. “Why didn’t you fight back?”

“’Well, did you at least try to fight back? Did you even yell for help?’ It topples me every time someone says that after I open up to them. Words can’t express how little they understand.” — Isa H.

4. “That doesn’t happen to men.”

“’You’re a bloke… It can’t happen to men.’ Something I’ve heard from past experiences, can’t trust anyone anymore.” — Chris R.

Related:​ 10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About ‘Highly Sensitive People’

5. “You were married. That doesn’t count.”

“’You were married. That doesn’t count.’ Just because I was married doesn’t mean what he did was right. We’re divorced now. Thank the universe. And now I’m happily married to someone else with a beautiful son. But my own friend said that to me… I felt like I couldn’t go to anyone after that.” — Jlynn B.

“’That’s not even sexual assault.’ My ex had told me that because I was his girlfriend, I was supposed to have sex with him. And if I didn’t, he would leave me. I still have problems today when my husband wants sex and I don’t. I’m always worried that I have to even if I don’t want to.” — Amber L.

“’He was your boyfriend, so you must have wanted him to have sex with you.’ Just because we are in a relationship does not give a guy permission to use me for his own personal gratification. If I say ‘no’ or if my actions show that I do not want his advances, then he needs to respect me and stop!” — Christina H.

6. “But that happened so long ago.”

“’It happened a long time ago.’ Yep, I know. Yet it feels like it’s happening right now and I still deserve to feel safe and get justice.” — Courtney H.

7. “It could have been worse.”

“’It could have been worse. Someone had it worse than you.’ This is devastating every time I hear it because it makes me feel like what happened to me was not ‘that bad.’ Or not bad enough to affect me like it did. Thanks to what happened to me, I have major PTSD and major trust issues.” — Maddie C.

8. “Boys will be boys.”

“‘Boys will be boys and men will be men’ or ‘Maybe you shouldn’t dress that way’ or “You’re the reason the family is falling apart. You should just forgive and move on.’” — Raven M

9. “Girls can’t rape girls.”

“’What? Girls can’t rape girls.’ What is so damaging is it didn’t register right away what had happened. No one explains this, especially in the LGBT community. It took years to accept what happened and to this day the damage lingers into my current relationship.” — Cynthia M.

“’You can’t be sexually assaulted by another girl, you must of wanted it.’ These things make me feel like I am to blame for some as else’s actions. It also makes me sick that society can be so sexiest because if a guy had done to me what this girl did, he would be charged with assault.’” — Jamie W.

10. “You’re a guy though. How did she overpower you?”

“’You are a guy though, how did she over power you?’ People need to realize how much this hurts and how pathetic it makes me feel. In my case, it started with emotional abuse. By the time they tried sexually assaulting me, I didn’t feel like I could fight back.” — Callum C.

11. “You shouldn’t have put yourself in that situation in the first place.”

“’You shouldn’t have been alone with him if you didn’t trust him.’ I did trust him. I thought he was my friend. He raped me while I was recovering from a hospitalization and medicated on pain meds.” — Katy D.

“’You shouldn’t have gone to his house. It’s your fault you know.’ My boyfriend at the time blamed me for being raped. My rapist was a childhood friend whom I trusted and was very close to for years. There were no signs things were about to change. I had to interact with my rapist every day at school and act like nothing was wrong. I haven’t seen him since graduation, but I live in fear every day.” — Joselin I.

12. “Don’t you think it’s time to forgive and move on?”

“’Don’t you think it’s time for forgiveness?’ While seemingly good, really just disregards someone’s suffering. It hurts to hear that because I don’t feel like forgiving them. I don’t want to let go of the hate and you telling me it’s ‘time’ to forgive really just tells me it’s time to talk to someone who actually understands.” — Callie B.

“’The past is the past. Leave it in the past and move on.’ If only it was that simple. I’d give anything, absolutely anything, to be able to move on like it never happened. But it did happen, and years on, it still haunts me.” — Abby R.

13. “At least you weren’t seriously injured.”

“As if my lack of internal and external injuries just makes it all better? Let’s not think about the nights I laid awake or the countless flashbacks and PTSD that occurred due to my fortunate lack of ‘serious injury.’ Choose your words carefully. Don’t minimize what was an incredibly traumatic experience for me.” — Megan K.

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