…came home to find the front door slightly open, dead bolt broken by sheer force. My laptop was gone. Also a Kindle sitting next to my bed, and part of the cheap speaker system in David’s bathroom. Oh, and a kitchen towel…
David’s “command center” at his desk was all intact, though the thieves had shaken out a box containing old letters. They’d ignored the laptop by his bed, and all my consoles in plain sight in the living room. It was a very perplexing theft.
The Kent Police Department was quick on the scene and so far has been great to deal with. The officer examined the door, gave us his info, and suggested ways to make it tougher for the thieves in the future.
And that got me thinking about rape and victim blaming. No, I’m not AT ALL saying the police officer was victim blaming. And of course rape and theft are not on the same level AT ALL.
But you hear people equating the two all the time. “If you leave your house unlocked, what do you expect?”
I’ve heard people say, well maybe girls shouldn’t wear short skirts. Maybe they shouldn’t drink alcohol. Maybe they should learn martial arts. Maybe they shouldn’t hang out with guys.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been robbed. It happened twice when I lived in California. Our rental car got broken into last time I was in Hawaii, something I’m still dealing with.
David and I are pretty low maintenance–we’re not big on material things. I don’t have expensive jewelry, we don’t own state of the art electronics, and pretty much everything is replaceable.
The sense of violation however is terrible, more than the loss of material things. And the frustration. And the loss of security: should I worry about this happening again? What if I were home, would they have hurt me?
You see, we had a dead bolt on the door. All the doors and windows were locked. There’s evidence the thieves tried to come in through the back, and couldn’t get in because we have a piece of wood keeping the sliding door from opening all the way. We made reasonable precautions.
When our rental car got broken into, someone asked if we had valuables in plain sight. If we tried to hide our suitcases. If we parked in a safe area.
I imagine other people may ask, as part of their concern regarding the house: “Do you have an alarm system? Why don’t you install any cameras? Maybe you should get a guard dog.”
Here’s the deal. We did what could be reasonably expected to protect our property. And yet we still got robbed.
Millions of people go through their lives everyday NOT breaking into other people’s cars or homes. We don’t walk by someone’s vehicle, spot a laptop bag, and think “Hm, maybe I’ll just break a window and grab that real quick.” We don’t drive around neighborhoods checking out who we can steal from next.
In the same way, millions of men don’t go around raping women. I get that.
But even with reasonable precautions, there will be people who are going to do horrible things. They’ll smash the car window. They’ll break the dead bolt. They’ll drug a woman.
So why do we think that women who get raped could’ve done something different to prevent it? Why do we ask what they were wearing, or if they were drinking? Why does that matter?
And does the nature of the precaution make the crime any less of a crime? If my door had been unlocked, was the theft not a theft? Do you go around checking other people’s doors to see if you can get inside and steal something?
Change your behavior, so the rapists will hurt the next girl, not you. That’s what we’re effectively saying. Look out for yourself, as though a break-in in the neighborhood doesn’t make the other homeowners fear for their own security, as though another girl being raped doesn’t inspire fear for our safety and our lives, even just a little.
I’m not saying don’t do these things. I’m not saying don’t lock your doors, or don’t carry mace, or don’t learn martial arts. What I’m saying is that even with reasonable precautions, shit happens. And whether or not a precaution was taken doesn’t excuse the crime. People who want to commit a crime will do so. If not now, then maybe later. And at no point is it the fault of the victim. They should not bear responsibility.
Save your blame for the criminals.