A recent interview with Jane Fonda took over my twitter feed on Monday. Organizations and sexual assault advocacy groups shared, retweeted and posted links to the article and articles discussing the article. It’s always a big deal when someone comes out and says that they were sexually assaulted or sexually abused and they didn’t stand up for themselves when it happened because they blamed themselves. This is a reality for too many victims of assault and every voice that comes out and says “rape and abuse are not our fault” is helping individuals come to terms with life after.
Her experiences with sexual abuse and rape were on the very first page of the article, it wasn’t a topic discussed in the middle but the point from which the article could begin to talk about her feminism and other experiences.
She has similar thoughts to those of other victims, that there was something she did that warranted her treatment.
I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing.
This is a common narrative of those who have experienced abuse or an assault. It’s easy to put blame on yourself when you can’t find other reasoning for what happened to you and your feelings afterwards. Fonda cleared up this “my fault” attitude as being wrong during her interview with Brie Larson and I can only hope that her message was received by the readers who may still be struggling with blame.
One of the great things the women’s movement has done is to make us realize that rape and abuse is not our fault.
Not only is this sentiment important to be shared with those who have experienced assault or abuse but it’s also important for readers who don’t understand, who have not had these negative experiences. It is so important to make sure that people who are listeners of others who have experienced sexual violence of any kind are equipped with the tools to understand, be supportive, and most importantly believing someone’s experience as true and their feelings as valid.
Here are a few Tweets that were in response to the interview that I thought were noteworthy:
Seeing responses in appreciation of Fonda sharing her story and standing up and saying that it has also happened to her, even years later is the small amount of positive change that comes from sharing stories.
Edit: There was of course negative feedback on Twitter directed at Fonda. That’s to be expected. This post is about the importance of talking about sexual assault and abuse and not blaming yourself for being a victim. It’s not your fault.