“The Rape” of Mr. Smith

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

“The Rape of Mr. Smith” is a well-known fictional narrative designed to highlight the ludicrous nature of blaming rape victims for the crimes perpetrated against them. This story is incredibly powerful, and we recommend sharing it with people in your circle to start a dialogue during Sexual Assault Awareness Month about the way survivors of sexual assault are treated:

The Rape of Mr. Smith

“Mr. Smith, you were held up at gunpoint on the corner of 16th & Locust?”


“Did you struggle with the robber?”


“Why not?”

“He was armed.”

“Then you made a conscious decision to comply with his demands rather than to resist?”


“Did you scream? Cry out?”

“No. I was afraid.”

“I see. Have you ever been held up before?”


“Have you ever given money away?”

“Yes, of course –“

“And did you do so willingly?”

“What are you getting at?”

“Well, let’s put it like this, Mr. Smith. You’ve given away money in the past — in fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that you weren’t–contriving–to have your money taken away from you by force?”

“Listen, if I wanted –”

“Never mind. What time did this holdup take place, Mr. Smith?”

“About 11 p.m.”

“You were out on the streets at 11 p.m.? Doing what?”

“Just walking.”

 “Just walking? You know that it’s dangerous being out on the street that late at night. Weren’t you aware that you could have been held up?” 

“I hadn’t thought about it.”

“What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?”

“Let’s see. A suit. Yes, a suit.”

“An expensive suit?”

 “Well — yes.”

“In other words, Mr. Smith, you were walking around the streets late at night in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you might be a good target for some easy money, isn’t that so? I mean, if we didn’t know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think you were asking for this to happen, mightn’t we?”

“Look, can’t we talk about the past history of the guy who did this to me?”

“I’m afraid not, Mr. Smith. I don’t think you would want to violate his rights, now, would you?”

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