Suppose some woman walks up to you and says, “hi, I just got raped”. Should you believe her? What if she’s lying? What if she’s just trying to get back at some guy who treated her badly? Maybe he just cheated on her, so now she’s going around telling everybody that he raped her. Gosh! What should you do?
If these kinds of questions trouble you, then I have some great news for you, because the situation is really not that complicated. What you do is this: you believe her.
“But what about the guy! Doesn’t he have rights? What if she’s lying!”
Yeah, yeah, I get it. Believe me. I know what you mean. Maybe she is lying. Maybe the guy is a great and wonderful person who would never actually hurt a woman. Yes, these are all valid concerns.
These are valid concerns that you should totally ignore, so that they don’t interfere with your ability to believe that the woman got raped. When a woman tells you she got raped — actually, when anyone tells you they got raped, be they woman, man, child, whoever — it is absolutely imperative that you believe that he or she got raped, no matter what.
“But what if she’s lying!”
Yeah, yeah, we just covered that. You’re right, she might be lying. But go ahead and believe her anyway.
“But what if she’s done this in the past and even confessed that she lied, and now here she goes again!”
Nope. That doesn’t change anything. You should still believe her.
“But I don’t understand! This makes no sense. This is just crazy!”
Right, it makes no sense, to you. Most likely because you’ve never been raped. Had you ever been raped, you would know that being disbelieved is so awful, that it’s just much, much better to make the mistake of believing a liar, than it is to make the mistake of disbelieving a true rape-survivor.
“But I would never make such a mistake. I can tell the difference between a liar and a true rape survivor with perfect accuracy.”
Go back and say that out loud.
(Continue with Towards A Survivor-Centric View of Rape: Part 2)