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It's My Fault Because I Had a Drink? How Being Sexually Assaulted Introduced Me to Victim-Blaming Culture

When I was sexually assaulted and mugged last month, I was abruptly introduced to the culture of victim blaming — from the police, and even my family and friends.

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“The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions. Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?”

People should not ask what drew young men to gang-rape a child, and they should not ask what someone was drinking or wearing when she was assaulted. Victims should not be told to “be more careful” after being attacked. I was not assaulted because of what I had been wearing or drinking. The assumption that I should have known better and wasn’t being careful is insulting. The circumstances surrounding my assault shouldn’t matter. What matters is that I was assaulted.

The culture of victim blaming has to stop. But it won’t until members of law enforcement — and society at large — change their attitudes.

Carey Purcell is a New York–based writer and editor. She runs, where she publishes reviews of Broadway shows. Her freelance writing can be read at

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