Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his show Tuesday night that survivors of rape have an “obligation” to report their rapists to police immediately. Failure to do so, he continued, makes them “part of the problem.”
Carlson made the comments while discussing sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of assaulting then-15-year-old Christine Blasey Ford when the two were at a high school party in the 1980s.
Ford, who originally tried to remain anonymous, alleges that Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed, groped her, and tried to take off her clothes, covering her mouth when she tried to scream, before she managed to escape. Ford told the Washington Post recently that she didn’t tell anyone about the alleged assault in detail until it came up in a couples therapy session with her husband in 2012. She’s expected to testify before Congress about the allegations on Thursday.
Reaction to Carlson’s comments on social media were swift:
@TuckerCarlson To blame the victims is to ignore a system that does not support them. Fix that. Tucker. Or YOU are part of the Problem.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) September 26, 2018
— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) September 26, 2018
@TuckerCarlson Hey Tucker, since you insist it's the 'responsibility' of women to report their rapes in a timely fashion, why don't you leave your office echo chamber, go to a rape crisis center, and remind the victims of that. Do it live. Show us how that turns out for you.
— Wintermute (@Wintermuteprime) September 26, 2018
It’s not uncommon for sexual assault victims to avoid reporting the crime. Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, according to data from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Of those, only 57 of those reports lead to arrest, 11 cases are referred to prosecutors, and only six perpetrators end up in jail.
“Only one person is responsible for a sexual assault and that is the perpetrator,” Mike Domitrz, founder of the Date Safe Project, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “To imply a survivor is responsible or part of the problem for potential future crimes … is unfair and can cause emotional harm to survivors.”
Carlson is far from the first person to suggest that sexual assault survivors need to immediately report the crimes committed against them — and it’s a dangerous way of thinking, Domitrz says. “Putting any responsibility on survivors helps create a culture where the responsibility is taken off the perpetrator,” he says. “Due to the amount of victim blaming that still exists in our culture today, to add to that narrative of victim blaming is dangerous and could result in less survivors coming forward.”
Survivors simply may not feel comfortable speaking out at the time, he says, and for many, many reasons. “If you were to list all the reasons a survivor may not come forward, the list would be extremely long,” Domitrz says. “Due to a society that quickly victim-blames many, survivors often blame themselves first — even though the crime is 100 percent the perpetrator’s fault. Survivors can genuinely feel coming forward would be useless because they live in a community where they have witnessed other survivors fail to be supported and fail to be given justice. Survivors can fear retaliation for coming forward. These are just a few of the many possibilities survivors experience.”
But ultimately, the choice to come forward or not — and when — is a survivor’s right. “If an event 20 years after the assault triggers a survivor today, and now that survivor has the courage and feels safe in coming forward and they do come forward, the last outcome they need to hear is ‘You should have come forward sooner,’” Domitrz says.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Gisele Bündchen reveals she contemplated suicide over panic attacks: ‘You have no idea what’s really going on’
- Mitch McConnell describes attorney questioning Kavanaugh and his accuser as a ‘female assistant’
- Fifth-grader lies down to protect the American flag from touching the ground: ‘Way to show America how it’s done’