Rape survivor: Stop victim blaming when it comes to women's safety

Rape survivor Sam Murray wants to change the culture around women's safety. Picture: Sarah Lucy Bro

Ipswich rape survivor Sam Murray wants to change the culture around women's safety - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

An Ipswich rape survivor is hoping to change the culture around women's safety — moving away from blaming female victims, to showing men how they can help.

Many campaigns around safety are focused on how women can protect themselves from attack.

They include advice such as telling friends where you are, noting down taxi registration plates, holding keys between your fingers, checking over your shoulder and not staying out on your own too late.

However, Sam Murray is tired of women being the ones solely burdened with the responsibility of keeping safe, when perpetrators of sexual attacks are most often male.

Rape survivor Sam Murray wants to change the culture around women's safety. Picture: Sarah Lucy Bro

Sam Murray, from Ipswich, has spoken out as a survivor of rape - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The 34-year-old, who lives in Ipswich and has agreed to waive her legal right to anonymity for this article, said: "We need to change the language used when giving safety advice for women.

"The trauma of sexual assault doesn't ever leave you and we need to be doing more to prevent it happening, not just getting justice for victims — once the assault takes place, there is no taking that back.

"This is why prevention is so important.

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"Instead of telling women not to wear something too revealing, how about we remind men not to get so drunk that they misunderstand the word no or do something because their mates think it will be funny, when in fact it's upsetting a woman."

More bars are adopting schemes where anyone in trouble can ask for help, such as the Ask for Angela campaign.

Ms Murray would like to see more of these initiatives implemented in the nightlife industry.

Isabelle Booth is the helpline and volunteer co-ordinator for Suffolk Rape Crisis, which also organises the local Reclaim the Night movement.

Isabelle Booth is the helpline and volunteer co-ordinator for Suffolk Rape Crisis

Isabelle Booth is the helpline and volunteer co-ordinator for Suffolk Rape Crisis - Credit: Isabelle Booth

"We see first-hand the way the victim blaming narrative can restrict the ways women can seek support after an incident," she explained.

"If it is agencies who support you putting out messages that make you feel you are somehow to blame for your experience, then it makes women feel guilty for what happened to them — it's almost a checklist of what did I do wrong for this to happen to me?

"We need to talk about shifting the blame back on to the perpetrators of these crimes as it's them who make the decision to do it."

Rape survivor Sam Murray wants to change the culture around women's safety. Picture: Sarah Lucy Bro

Rape survivor Sam Murray says: 'We need to change the language used when giving safety advice for women' - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

For more information about Suffolk Rape Crisis, including help and support, click here.

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