Fortunately, I have never been asked this question about my assault. Many other people are not so fortunate. This is honestly the very first thought many people have when they hear about an assault because they must have been asking for sex, right? I’m hoping that by writing about this topic that you will take a minute and think honestly about how you respond verbally or just inside your head when you hear that someone was assaulted. I’m going to take a guess and say that one of the immediate thoughts in your head if you hear about an assault is, “well she was asking for it” or “she shouldn’t have dressed that way”. Yeah, I used to think that way too. Not verbally, but inside my own head. I mean there must be a reason why people get raped, right? Wrong. People get raped because the rapist chooses to violate somebody. It is about power. It is never about being drunk, what clothes you wear, your location, your age, etc. Victims do not choose to be raped. The rapists choose to rape. Plain & simple.
The day of my assault, I was dressed to go to church, so I was dressed very conservatively. You can see the basic outfit I had on below. The only changes are that I had on a black top and black dress pants. I was also wearing my most trendy comfort shoes. I say this sarcastically because they were not trendy, but after walking in DC all the time I needed some comfortable dress shoes. I was comfortable. Never once did I think that my clothing invited someone to violate me.
But, even if I were dressed in the most revealing, tight, low cut dress with stiletto heels it does not mean that I want to have sex with someone. A woman likes getting dressed up every now & then. Nothing wrong with that. I know that I like to get dressed up occasionally when my self-confidence is strong. I used to dress up to get noticed, or to get looks and compliments from others. It made me feel good to have the attention. That isn’t the case anymore. I get dressed up for me and me alone. I honestly don’t care what other people think anymore. When I take care of myself enough that I have the confidence to go out in public it is a victory for me. I might be in yoga pants & a t-shirt, or I might be in a dress. Regardless of what I wear, I do it for me.
Asking what you were wearing is on par with asking why you put yourself in the situation to get raped, or you should have known what would happen if you went to his apartment. I ran into this form of questioning because there is video of me in the elevator at the apartment where I was raped and in it I appear coherent and talking normally. (remember, I was completely blacked out for 10-12 hours) Some of the investigators & the defense attorneys involved in my case actually insinuated several times that since I was riding in an elevator with a guy that this consents to having sex. “He let you off the elevator first and you seemed fine.” Riding an elevator does not equate you get to have sex with me. I seriously had to argue this fact over & over again!
I had to fight that tooth & nail with everyone involved. The case was nearly closed because of this video. I was even cross-examined on the video after I gave my victim impact statement. I might not have been questioned on my clothes, but it was the same intent. You were asking for it. You willingly rode in an elevator with a guy, you were talking, you touched your hair and you got out of the elevator first. You clearly wanted to have sex with this guy. It’s not his fault. Shame on you.
So beware, wearing clothes and riding elevators now means that you are ‘asking for it’.