Dear Abby blames girl’s rape on communication breakdown in bewildering advice column gone wrong
Popular advice column “Dear Abby” took a turn for the horrific when the long-time writer blamed a young woman for her rape.
The story that the girl wrote to Abby describing the situation might be too much for survivors of sexual assault. The girl explained that she was a virgin who had never kissed anyone before when she went out on a date with a young man. They were in his truck when he began to feel her up. “He took me to a semi-isolated area and we ended up having sex. It wasn’t fun or pleasurable. I told him he was hurting me, but he didn’t stop until the third time I said it. He was very upset with me.”
The girl then asked Abby if this falls under the definition of rape. While Abby acknowledged that it falls under sexual assault she blamed the girl for “a severe breakdown in communication.”
“He had made no secret that he wanted sex with you, and may have interpreted your willingness to kiss him after he took you somewhere other than what was agreed upon as a signal that you were willing, even though you didn’t say so,” Abby explained.
Abby does concede that appropriate behavior is for an aggressor to ask for consent and that the boy, in this case, should not have proceeded without consent. She further used the incident to illustrate to parents that they should talk to their children about issues like this.
Women’s rights activists have spent years working to change the narrative to stop blaming the victims and survivors of sexual assault. “Clothes don’t cause rapes. Rapists cause rapes,” popular internet memes read. The White House launched the It’s On Us campaign in 2014 to fight the increase in campus sexual assaults and Vice President Joe Biden announced Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards giving a short speech on the need for the public to do more. “Too many women and men, on and off college campuses, are still victims of sexual abuse,” Biden said. He implored the audience to take the pledge: “I will intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.” Dear Abby should consider the pledge.