'walk like a victim, you will be a victim'

(55 Posts)
sunlightonthegrass Mon 29-Apr-13 21:43:34

I can't work out what I feel about this.

I took someone to task for saying this recently (in a nice way - I just pointed out that it might not make people who had been victims feel great to feel it was their 'fault' in some way - she, to give her her due, was very gracious about it.)

However, I did sort of know what she was getting at but I still objected to it.

Interested to hear other thoughts?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 29-Apr-13 22:01:58

"meet an attacker, you will be attacked" as a riposte?

sunlightonthegrass Mon 29-Apr-13 22:04:51

Good one!

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Mon 29-Apr-13 22:06:21

I think the main issue I have is in the phrasing.

I have no issue with saying that walking confidently, with purpose, without earphones, not on your phone, makes you a less attractive target for an opportunist violent criminal (of any type, mugging, sexual, etc).

Though, of course, it isn't addressing the underlying issue - just trying to make that criminal pick someone other than your loved one. Which is a deeply uncomfortable thought.

What you can't do is turn it around. Walking that way isn't a magic talisman and nor does not walking that way make you a victim.

Snazzynewyear Mon 29-Apr-13 22:06:33

I think you were right to point it out. There must be a way to say 'do everything you can to protect yourself but the problem comes from people who choose to do the wrong thing, not you as the recipient doing the wrong thing'. I really dislike the way that the person you mention said it. It does sound very 'you're bringing it on yourself'.

DuelingFanjo Mon 29-Apr-13 22:08:20

There's a stupid thing that he's round Facebook telling women not to dress a certain way, not to have your hair tied back so rapists can't granite and so on. Just utterly ridiculous victim blaming shite.

Sadly someone will be along shortl to explain why women in short skirts are like unlocked cards.

Personally I think things like this are utter shite.

DuelingFanjo Mon 29-Apr-13 22:08:59

Fore granite read 'grab it' - stupid iPad.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 22:10:29

It's an awful thing to say
And when it comes to rape - pretty unlikely to be true? Given that most rapes are carried out by someone known to the victim and thus how they are walking at any given moment is unlikely to have much to do with anything.
It a, for various reasons (what does it even MEAN? It's pretty bloody vague isn't it) and so, what, they shouldn't go outside at all?

Load of balls glad you said something to your friend.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 22:12:20

Oh whoops what happened there...

Should say lots of people can't do the "walk" for various reasons and so what are they supposed to do? Stay indoors for their whole life or say yes if I go out and someone rapes me it's my fault as I'm old / young / disabled / whatever it might be.

sunlightonthegrass Mon 29-Apr-13 22:15:01

Yeah, we were talking about some recent muggings and sexual assaults that have been carried out near the local market and she trotted that one out. I sort of made a hmm face and said "god, that's an awful thing to say, you make it sound like they asked for it!"

She backtracked then and clarified what she'd meant - about not listening to headphones, not appearing distracted or vague - and I could see what she meant and to be fair she was pretty apologetic but some of the other people we were with were all "It's truuuuue!" which made me wonder if I was alone in thinking it's a shit thing to say?

I can't stand anything that makes it sound like you (general you) are responsible for other people's nastiness, cruelty or personality defects in any way.

On a purely practical level, I think she has a point.

On a moral/ethical level it does amount to victim-blaming.

I like 'Meet an attacker, be attacked' - nice and succinct.

sunlightonthegrass Mon 29-Apr-13 22:16:47

Pacific I do agree, but can't we (as a nation I suppose, not you and me personally! grin) think of ways of phrasing it that don't turn it around on the victim?

bubbles1231 Mon 29-Apr-13 22:17:45

My sister was really nervous when we went out as young adults- she would look around her, clutch my arm at the slightest noise and do a half run-walk thing if she saw anyone she thought was suspicious (and that seemed to be most people).
She was the one who the wierdos approached, who was flashed at etc so I think that predators do spot something different about body language.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 22:21:08

Strange.
I was flashed at followed etc etc etc and I always felt confident and cheerful.
Must have been something else I was "doing wrong" I guess hmm [rolly eyes]

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 22:22:10

bubbles what do you suggest then is done about vulnerable people and the people who are looking for prey?

AuntieStella Mon 29-Apr-13 22:24:27

I suppose it depends on whether you think the attacker selects the victim.

If you take the rape headline out of it, and think instead of another type of violent criminal - do they look for certain types, such as Tobin, whose victims looked similar, or the mugger who picks and old lady on pension day, or the snatcher who is looking for the person waving their phone about, or the bag thief who looks for the moments of inattention to your handbag, or the attacker who looks for someone teetering in hells rather than the athletic type in trainers. None of those victims were asking for it, and some of the victim selection criteria are inherent characteristics (such as age/appearance) about which you can do nothing.

But training in situation awareness can remind you of those factors over which you have a choice and how to minimise risks arising from your choices. It's the sort of thing that I want my DCs - of both sexes, for young men are also likely victims of violent crime - to learn about.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 22:26:30

I suppose those things happened when I was quite young. That is a form of vulnerability.

I don't buy that it's up to the victim not to be seen as prey by a predator who they don't even know is prey and who they don't know what sort of prey they are looking for.

And some people will be vulnerable no matter what due to all sorts of factors.

Saying "oh well they will pick vulnerable people so don't look vulnerable" doesn't assist the people who just are vulnerable, and doesn't stop the crime it just moves it onto someone else. Which is simply not an acceptable solution.

Well, it's a bit along the lines of 'Don't rape' as an anti-raping slogan, not 'Don't wear a short skirt/get very drunk/go to dodgy parts of town'.

I have been flashed and groped (in public places, so never been in any particular physical danger that I know of) and I walk confidently, rarely feel scared, never drank huge amounts, never had the legs for short skirts wink etc etc. Random, dumb luck does come into it, I am sure.

Let's face it, rape/sexual assault is not about sex, it's about control/anger.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 22:27:44

Well quite auntiestella.

the difficulty lies when the "advice" is a load of bollocks and the only people being exhorted to follow it are female.

Oh, yes, and the crime then just being moved to somebody who cannot help appearing or in fact feeling more vulnerable, is just morally more than dubious.
Until all people inclined to random or not so random violence are <ahem> persuaded of the error of their ways, I know what I would advise my daughters. If I had any.
As it is, my boys learn about respecting others as much as themselves, never to force physical closeness unless invited, No means No etc. In an age-appropriate manner (my 3 year old is currently very fond of licking my cleavage. In public. Without my consent. But he'll learn).

Levity aside, I do think parents of boys have a responsiblity here.

AuntieStella Mon 29-Apr-13 22:35:44

The good advice is that which applies to both sexes and multiple types of offence. And is about reducing risk, not a guarantee of ever being risk free.

bubbles1231 Mon 29-Apr-13 22:48:47

Nice I don't have an answer to that.
The problem is that there will always be attackers. All we can do is try to educate our young women AND men ( because it's not only women who are victims of rape) to take as many precautions as possible, to try and think ahead and read possible dangerous situations.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 22:58:09

I think all we can do is

believe victims
support them carefully when they report crimes
make sure that the authorities take accusations seriously
make sure that multiple accusations / cautions / convictions are linked up so as to get better intelligence / more chance of successful prosecution
lock violent criminals up until a whole bunch of experts deem them to be of no risk to the public, rather than for an arbitrary amount of time

that sort of thing.

I am not going to be in the business of telling children, elderly people, disabled people, mentally ill people that they need to do x, y and z and if they don't do that and get attacked well really it's their own behaviour that's to blame.

This whole approach is riddled with victim - blaming and is a strong part of the reason that so few victims come forward.

There is often a misapprehension of 'risk': you can have a high risk of something, and it does not happy. You can have a low risk, and it does happen. But minimising risk still seems sensible, non?

And the types of attacks men and women suffer are often different. Yes, sexual attacks/rape happen to men too, but non-sexual violent attacks are far more common in young men. I live in Glasgow and knife-crime is still a shocking problem - women do of course on occasion get stabbed, but much more commenly, it's men. Young men. I do think initiatives like knife amnesties are a Good Thing. Encouraging young men NOT to carry knives when they go out as it common practice for some communities.

Saying to a young man person to avoid certain night clubs/wearing certain football stips IN certain night clubs/making eye contact with certain types is not considered 'blaming the victim' as much as suggesting that another young woman person should use some common sense.

Oh gawd, I know what I mean in my head, but it's hard to put down so it makes sense.
No victim EVER asked to be a victim. No attacker was EVER made to attack; certainly not by something the victim did.

<<ties herself in knots>>

x-post with Nice.

bubbles1231 Mon 29-Apr-13 23:01:01

I get you Pacific

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 23:03:17

Thing is that the vast majority of people are attacked due to bad luck. Nothing more, nothing less. And with rape - unlike with the football shirts - most attacks are by people known to the victim. No amount of "risk minimisation" will help that.

I would imagine that both women and men who wear the "wrong" football shirt to a pub for the other supporters run a risk of violence.
Problem with sex attackers is they don't all go to the same pub and wear shirts to identify who they are.

the analogy just doesn't hold i think.

Unless you imagine that "being female" is the equivalent of wearing the "wrong" football shirt and the supporters of the opposite team could be anywhere but there's no way of telling who they are... Maybe that works.

dogsandcats Mon 29-Apr-13 23:07:38

I could be wrong, but I would have thought that men are far and away, the group most likely to be victims of crime outside the home.
Again, I could be wrong, but I think the advice to men is not to look other men in the eye?

I agree, it's mainly luck - good or bad.
I don't give a monkey's about football strips - I just ment to illustrate that men and women to face different types of risks on the whole, although some men get raped and some women get attacked for wearing the 'wrong' colours. And that even advice given to men is less likely to be seen as victim blaming.

And yes, sadly, I think 'being female' is a risk sad.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 23:18:50

Don't get me wrong I am all for teaching people (from when they are young children) about what is OK and what isn't and if possible confidence through things like martial arts (for some reason they appeal to me grin) and using your instincts and not being embarrassed / cowed into staying in situations you actually want to get out of (that one is esp important for girls) and so on.

But just this stuff about limiting freedom and always being on the alert and never being able to relax and always considering yourself prey is just such a miserable way to live, and it is a message which is aimed at women and not men, overwhelmingly in the media and random emails and police warnings and all sorts of things and it's that which pisses me off.

Also none of the "advice" whether good or bad is going to help if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time out of simple bad luck. And it is always bad luck when shit happens and not the fault of your skirt or your hair or your age or something.

I see it the other way around: I don't see myself as prey, I am not anxious and yes, I have often been lucky (with the benefit of hindsight).
Public warnings have been awful though, I agree. I like the 'Don't rape' one though grin. It would work well with 'Don't stab' or any other violent crime too.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 23:44:00

I don't see myself as prey either which is why it makes me so angry when I see and hear and read all these things which are simply telling me that is what I am.

And I'm not having it. I never did.

I have been averagely lucky I think.

Just today a friend told me she was out with some work people she didn't know that well and one of the blokes was "randomly sexually assaulting women in the bar". So those women were unlucky. And that man needed to be pulled up on it, but so few people are prepared to do that which is part of the whole problem. This sort of behaviour should be deemed utterly unacceptable by society and that would stamp out a lot of the more casual assaults.

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 23:45:00

Those top ten tips are good.

I know some people get very aerated about them. And they accuse feminists of not having a sense of humour hmm

NiceTabard Mon 29-Apr-13 23:46:12

My favourite top tips were in the same email

Studies have shown that men who rape never choose women with short hair

Carry an umbrella at all times to defend yourself

Cheers for that! grin

BasilBabyEater Tue 30-Apr-13 21:07:01

Thing is, it implies that anyone over about 70, or disabled, or a child, or is quite short and small, or is un-armed, should never go out by themselves.

Because by definition, those people look more like victims to someone inclined to victimise other people.

You only have to think about it for about 20 seconds, to realise how unrealistic such ideas are.

dogsandcats Tue 30-Apr-13 22:01:31

But you might take extra precautions, if that is the right turn of phrase?

NiceTabard Tue 30-Apr-13 22:44:17

What sort of extra precautions?

dogsandcats Tue 30-Apr-13 22:48:47

Extra people with you if you can.
Up to the individual concerned isnt it?

NiceTabard Tue 30-Apr-13 22:52:03

Not quite sure what to make of that idea.

Surely it is up to society and police to look out for vulnerable people to a certain extent? Thinking about young people (children), elderly people, people with more profound disabilities, people with mental health issues, and the whole gamut of vulnerable people. The idea that it is "up to the individual concerned" to "walk the walk" so as to reduce their risk of abuse just sounds wrong to me.

NiceTabard Tue 30-Apr-13 22:58:01

It's also impractical.

Most people do not have the option of having other people around them when they do stuff.

eg most people in winter walk around by themselves after dark. That's inescapable. The idea that they should somehow be taking "extra precautions" is only going to be damaging to the minority of people who are unlucky enough to have something bad happen on their way home from work or the shops or wherever.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 30-Apr-13 23:03:33

Not to mention that if you ask an acquaintance to walk with you, they may turn out to be your attacker.

thezebrawearspurple Wed 01-May-13 01:40:00

It's never the victims fault if they're attacked but certain vulnerabilities will make some people more likely to be attacked. There's no way for elderly/disabled/physically weak people to prevent attack by walking a different way and even Mike Tyson would be endangered by a gang attack, only removing offenders from the streets can make them safe for everybody.

There will never be a safe society where we can all live happily with free abandon until there is severe punishment for violent thugs and the vermin that produce and raise them that way. As long as the fashion is to indulge bad parenting and the consequent criminals rather than holding them to account, civilisation and genuine freedom are impossible. People should be free to walk the streets without being attacked and enjoy their homes without being attacked, whether they can or not depends on geography and demographics.

Longdistance Wed 01-May-13 01:53:51

Wasn't there some study in the US, where they showed prisoners two people walking on along a street. One had their head down, hunched, no eye contact, the other person had their head held up high, good posture, looking aware, and something like 95% of them chose the first subject that was hunched with their head down as the person they would attack/ mug.
But this is a study on people they don't know, that are walking along the street, no friends/ relatives.
Just found that quite interesting.

GoblinGranny Wed 01-May-13 04:20:39

'I have no issue with saying that walking confidently, with purpose, without earphones, not on your phone, makes you a less attractive target for an opportunist violent criminal (of any type, mugging, sexual, etc). '

I have a boy and a girl, I taught both of them that as I believe it to be true. However, if they are attacked, no blame or responsibility attaches to them, they were victimised because of a predator who targeted them. The fault lies entirely with the attacker.

GoblinGranny Wed 01-May-13 04:25:53

'Surely it is up to society and police to look out for vulnerable people to a certain extent?'

When that becomes an expectation for everyone, that we all look out and care for everyone we come into contact with, then we will have Utopia.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Wed 01-May-13 09:58:56

Totally agree Goblin. And yes, I inrended it to mean for both sexes. smile

NiceTabard Wed 01-May-13 09:59:19

At the moment, sadly, it isn't even happening for many vulnerable people.

wol1968 Wed 01-May-13 13:43:45

Maybe we should lock up all the men after dark. wink

DuelingFanjo Wed 01-May-13 20:16:35

Good idea, they obviously can't be trusted.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 01-May-13 21:42:37

But saying "victims have certain styles of walking" or similar statements is silly. There have been criticims of early victim selection studies anyway, and to be honest, if you want to avoid being mugged, the easiest way is to avoid population centres and comercial centres from 6pm to 1am-ish, especially on a Friday and Saturday night. However, there are lots of reasons to go to those places at those times.

I think people like to believe there are ways to avoid being victimised, things they can control. This is normal, as humans we have evolved to try and make patterns out of randomness and to believe "it won't happen to me, because..."

I don't think it's helpful to compare rape and mugging- 75% of muggings (roughly) happen to men, whereas most rapes happen to women. Most muggers won't know their victim at all. Most rapists will.

With regards to muggings, age is a factor, most victims are young, under 25, with 20-24 being most at risk, then 16-19. A 20-24 year old male isn't someone you neccessarily think of as being vulnerable and they probably don't "walk like victims". It might be oppourtunistic- they are more likely to be around when muggings occur.

According to Wilson (1984) most victims are selected on the grounds of the resistance they will put up to the mugger- so people who look wealthy, or look like they don't value money are chosen, as they will be more likely to hand over their cash more easily. Some muggers said they didn't chose women, as they were more likely to "get hysterical and scream".

You can't focus on one factor and say that was what made them the victim. Most people are probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time (and alone or in a small group).

BasilBabyEater Wed 01-May-13 21:47:35

I have to say, I find it amazing that people have a seemingly endless supply of random humans who are prepared to accompany them on trips out of their house.

I don't have access to a pool of people I can ring up and say "hey, I need to pop down to Tesco for some milk, can you come round and escort me please?" I envy those who have.

Slowloris, interesting post - I agree, a lot is down to luck.

I think for individuals it makes sense to consider where to go, when, with whom, how to walk/look, give out a certain attitude etc - yes, even if just gives a feeling of control.

As a society or as public policy saying 'You should look/walk/dress like this in order to not get attacked' is wrong and victim-blamey <has a way with words>

Basil, you've said it. Unless we should all consider hiring body guards??

NiceTabard Wed 01-May-13 22:02:47

I guess thinking about it, it all comes back to women not going out without an escort / owner?

Although that never actually helped anyone , to be frank.

VerySmallSqueak Fri 03-May-13 15:05:50

I think that an opportunist will strike someone who is more vulnerable than they are.
To think that anyone can walk in a way to hide their apparent 'weakness' is nonsense.

I am a small female,and however much I stride confidently along,wearing rugged clothing,I will not disguise that I will, in all probability, be no match for a large man if he were to attack me.

I refuse to remain a prisoner to daylight hours,male escorts and 'safe' areas though.

I imagine that in this culture of victim blaming it was that which made me at fault when I was attacked by a man jumping out of the bushes ( where he had been waiting) and grabbing me on a lonely country road.

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