Every year, there are thousands of new victims of sexual abuse. Research tells us that one in four girls and one in six young males have been sexually abused. If you’re reading this blog post, you might be one of them. Or maybe you know someone who has been sexually abused.

Sexual abuse can take many forms. It includes rape, incest, molestation, voyeurism etc. Despite the increasing prevalence of rape and other sexual abuse cases, it’s disheartening to hear that 63% of rape cases go unreported each year.

Since sexual abuse is such a shame-filled concept, some victims choose to keep silent. Others even blame themselves for what had happened.

Victim blaming attitudes make it harder for them to come forward and report the abuse. In most cases, the experience leads to self-loathing, overwhelming shame, fear and disgust.

Stop blaming yourself, it’s not your fault

Victims almost always blame themselves when they are sexually assaulted. Often, they think they are at fault mainly because our culture blames the victim.

People would say, “it was her fault for getting drunk and leading him on”. Getting drunk or high doesn’t mean you deserve to be sexually abused. If you didn’t agree to doing something sexual at that time, even if you made it seem like you might be interested, you always have the right to say no. No means no. It’s not your fault.

Women’s wardrobe is often cited as a cause of sexual abuse. Some people would say, “Her skirt was too short. She was asking for trouble”. Nobody ever asks for or deserves to be raped, assaulted or sexually harassed. It doesn’t matter how small your clothing is, you deserve to be respected.

When people are robbed or mugged, they are not asked why they did not fight back. But for those who were sexually assaulted, not fighting back is often viewed as a sign that the victim wanted it to happen. If you were forced to have sex against your will, whether or not you fought back, you were sexually assaulted. Silence doesn’t count as consent, neither does the lack of resistance.

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. The only person who is at fault is the perpetrator. Stop blaming yourself.