Last Friday, singer, FKA twigs, filed a lawsuit against actor, Shia LaBeouf, citing sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress during their year-long relationship. In an interview with the New York Times, she explained that sharing her story shows that abuse can happen to anyone – regardless of their status, money or support system. The lawsuit states that she plans on donating most of any monetary damages to domestic-violence charities, but that didn’t stop her from being accused of doing it out of desperation for money. Her abuser also admitted to his alcoholism and aggression, but the musician is still being met with misogynist comments that make fun of her appearance and question her agenda. This is one of the main reasons victims don’t report their abuse.
“my second worst nightmare is being forced to share with the world that i am a survivor of domestic violence
my first worst nightmare is not telling anyone and knowing that i could have helped even just one person by sharing my story”
— FKA twigs (@FKAtwigs) December 11, 2020
Victims are afraid to come forward because they are more likely to be blamed instead of the perpetrator. Already struggling with feelings of guilt and shame for the assault, they are unable to further cope with the false assumption that they provoked their abuser. We’ve all heard, “She asked for it”, “Why did she wear that”, “She was drunk”, “Why did she talk to him”. Locally, we’re seeing this with celebrity preacher, Dai’ Syed, who has been charged for sexual assault, including rape, against multiple women. Men, and even women, have jumped to his defence – accusing the women for his acts of violence. It is never the victim’s fault.
None of these reasons are justified – sexual assault isn’t caused by what someone wears or how they act, it is caused by the perpetrator. They choose to harm to their victims and make survivors feel humiliated, uncomfortable and threatened. This is why it is so important for us to make survivors feel seen, heard and supported. If you witness victim blaming, call it out and encourage practicing empathy and holding space instead. We must put an end to this attitude and finally hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment or abuse, you can contact the Women’s Aid Organisation Hotline at 03 7956 3488 or SMS/WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058 .
Learn more about ending gender-based violence here.