A lot of people reach out to advice columnists for their problems — like one high school junior from Illinois who wrote to “Dear Abby” about her experience of sexual assault. The answer she got from the "expert" was definitely not what she was expecting.
“I decided I was fine with just kissing, but as soon as I got in his truck, he started to feel me up. He took me to a semi-isolated area and we ended up having sex. It wasn't fun or pleasurable. I told him he was hurting me, but he didn't stop until the third time I said it. He was very upset with me. He only cared about me pleasuring him,” the devastated girl wrote.
She went on to ask Abby, an expert advice columnist, whether she called what happened to her rape.
To which the advice was: “It appears you and that boy had a severe breakdown in communication, which led to your being sexually assaulted. He had made no secret that he wanted sex with you, and may have interpreted your willingness to kiss him after he took you somewhere other than what was agreed upon as a signal that you were willing, even though you didn't say so.”
It can be safely assumed that, it wasn’t the answer the girl was expecting — neither were any of the other readers. Although the sexually assaulted girl has made no remarks about the not-so-expert response, others are making sure they are heard loud and clear on social media:
Dear Abby, how does "a severe breakdown in communication" lead to sexual assault? https://t.co/AJwJB1OL86 oh right, it doesn't.— Abby Ellis (@abbycellis) April 14, 2016
I want to punch Dear Abby in the face and then just gather this girl into my arms. https://t.co/3H0tlhalFG— AC Writer (@amber_lcarter) April 13, 2016
Dear Abby,— Madeline Distasio (@MaddieDistasio) April 13, 2016
Time to call it quits. Get out of here.
Not Here for Rape Culture pic.twitter.com/GADaCMz4ui
It's ok to mess up on dinner party advice, but this is dangerous. https://t.co/BrjoYchElG— EqualRightsAdvocates (@EqualRightsAdv) April 13, 2016
Unfortunately the perception that something as heinous as rape is somehow "invited" or just a "date gone wrong" is a common one.
But its people like the columnist “Dear Abby”, daughter of the much celebrated original author of the almost-legendary advice column, who people trust and turn to for advice, that hold the heavy burden of responsibility. For them, to come out with reckless statements like these is extremely unfortunate.
It also not the first time. She is known to have made judgment calls on the wife of a man who wrote to Abby about one of his brothers raping his wife, blaming her for lying. "Please do not accept as gospel that your wife didn't have an inkling that it wasn't you," she wrote in response. "It's time to have a serious chat with your wife and get chapter and verse on what happened that night."