Why Rape Survivors Don’t Do What We Think They “Should” Do

The sexual assault allegations that catapulted the hashtag #MeToo into a viral phenomenon reshaped our collective consciousness around consent; and yet our culture and our laws are still mired in the same old victim blaming that has prevented any meaningful movement toward a sexual landscape that would afford us the safety and clarity that we all deserve.

There remains a ton of confusion around consent and sexual assault. And the stories recounted by rape survivors may sometimes cause us to scratch our heads about the way a given woman may have dealt with sexual assault – both during the assault as well as afterwards.

I doubt the vast majority of folks want to be unsympathetic or judgmental. They just don’t understand. But there are very simple and even scientific explanations for the responses of anyone threatened with bodily harm.

And we need to educate ourselves to that information, both for our own well being and that of those we love, as well as for the evolution of a culture that embraces consent and victim rights.

Fortunately there is scientific research that can afford us a much deeper understanding of what occurs when someone is sexually assaulted. Our brains are designed to deal with threat in four different ways but one in particular can be terribly confusing.

I am referring to something called tonic immobility and I will lay odds you have never heard of it. Which is sad because we all need to know about this very normal function of the brain under stress.

I hope you will read about this very common response to rape in my new Medium article: Why Didn’t She Say No, Fight Back or Run Away? 

Whether you are a sexual assault survivor or you know someone who is, this information will help remove any niggling shame or judgment you might have. It will create clarity where there was once confusion. And it might even help you achieve a more workable understanding of consent in your personal sex life.

If you know about tonic immobility, please post below. And if you never heard about this very normal response to rape, then feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comment section below.

Here’s to consensual adult sex that enhances our shared joys now and in the future.


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