School’s Sexual Assault Assignment Goes Viral for All the Wrong Reasons

It’s been a full year since the #MeToo movement began, and — truth be told — we’ve made great strides. Victims are speaking out and, in some case, assailants are being held accountable for their actions. Companies are revising outdated sexual harassment policies and state laws are changing. But one school’s recent assignment on sexual assault reminds us we still have a long way to go — and mom Charity Willard Eigenberger is calling the bullshit. Because this is victim-blaming at its finest (read: worst).

Eigenberger posted a photo of the assignment on Facebook. According to Eigenberger, the paper was given to her daughter, a high school freshman, after the class viewed a video on sexual assault. And while it is commendable that the school was attempting to address a very important issue, the assignment leaves a lot to be desired.

Case in point? Question one: “What could have Melissa done differently to have avoided her sexual assault (provide at least 4 examples)?”

Wait, what? Did this school really just begin this conversation by putting the onus of sexual assault on… women survivors?

Plenty of parents and other commenters weighed in on Eigenberger’s post. One wrote, “This is basically saying ‘what could’ve made him assault a different girl instead of her’. Blame the assaulter for their actions instead of the victim.”

Another pointed out that “literally nothing a victim or potential victim does will stop a rape. Me doing things to *potentially* make me ‘safer’ don’t stop the actual problem. They do nothing about the rapist who still has the urge and ability to commit the act. All any suggestions could do is change it from being me to being the person behind me who still wanted to go out but didn’t have any friends to go with em [sic]. Or the person who couldn’t afford mace or some other defensive weapon. Or the person who has no other way hone [sic] but through a dark area. Or the person who decided to take a cab home while drunk bc they had no designated driver.”

And yes, the biggest problem isn’t even what the school assignment question asks, but what it doesn’t: What did the assailant do wrong? When did they first overstep their bounds? It also doesn’t ask what we as a society could do differently, from the ways we perpetuate rape culture to how we talk to our children about consent.

And if you think society does not play a role in sexual assaults, think again: According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, one in five women will be raped at some point in their life yet most will not report it, an estimated 63 percent of sexual assaults are not called in to police. Why? Largely because of victim-blaming bullshit like this.

As for Eigenberger, while the mother is “disappointed” in the assignment and — well — “pissed,” she admitted still loves her daughter’s school. She just wants answers, and we don’t blame her.

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