'Did He Do It?': After a sexual assault allegation, you're asking the wrong question. — The Strange Pen

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In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many women have been empowered to tell their stories of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment.

In a Facebook group for women grapplers where I’m a member, I’ve seen a lot of posts lately from sexual assault survivors. The most recent is from a woman whose alleged perpetrator is a high profile Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt.

In the comments, group members debated the merits of the accusation and whether it was fair of the poster to reveal his identity.

They’re missing the point.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a sexual predator who’s a black belt in any martial art, but especially BJJ, a sport that specializes in taking your opponent to the ground and keeping them there.

Think for a moment about what that means.

If you’re not wary around a BJJ black belt who’s accused of sexual assault, you’re an idiot.

We all want to be fair. But don’t be so nice that you put your own safety at risk.

Be A Safe Bitch.

We do it all the time, override our most primitive survival instincts out of a misguided need to be nice. Like generations of women before us, we were taught to be good and never make waves.

Fuck that. I’d rather be a safe bitch than a nice girl.

If a friend tells you they were raped and you don’t believe them, you’re an asshole.

  1. False rape accusations are rare, and in line with false claims for other kinds of crime.
  2. Sexual assault survivors face severe social stigma, including victim-blaming messages. Why would anyone seek that out?

It can be harder to believe an acquaintance or a stranger than a loved one. Especially if you know the guy. The first question, the one thing we all want to know after a sexual assault accusation: Did he do it?

This is going to sound weird, but stay with me. It. Doesn’t. Matter.

You don’t need to become judge and jury every time a guy is accused of sexual assault. A potential rapist is a potential threat and should be treated as such—even if he’s not a black belt.

No one deserves your trust. Especially not a stranger. Trust is meant to be earned.

Is He A Potential Threat?

It’s fascinating the way men size each other up as a potential threat, based on body size and other characteristics. I doubt they stop to wonder whether it’s fair.

A quick thought experiment.

Your closest male friend is at a party talking to a guy you’ve never met. When the stranger walks away, another guy you both know says, “That dude’s crazy. When he gets drunk, he’ll kick your for looking at him wrong.”

How do you think your friend would behave after that? Carefully, I bet. He’d be a fool not to.

You should treat accused rapists the same way.

After college I dated this guy for a few weeks. What I remember most about him is his passivity. Years later, a very close friend told me that when they were teenagers, he tried to rape her.

You never know what someone is capable of.

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About Penelope Strange