‘Dear Abby’ Accused Of Blaming Rape Victim For Sexual Assault Because She Failed To ‘Communicate’

Dear Abby has a strong reputation for providing quality lifestyle pointers to her 110 million readers, but a recent response to a young rape victim has the Internet losing a lot of respect for the venerable advice columnist.

According to U Express, Dear Abby responded to a junior high school student who identified herself as “Uncertain in Illinois” on Wednesday. The girl wrote in looking for Dear Abby’s take on her experience with a male classmate that resulted in an allegedly non-consensual sexual encounter.

“I was a virgin and had never even kissed anyone before. I had just gotten out of a relationship that didn’t end very well, so I liked the attention. 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.”

Dear Abby’s response to the junior high girl has much of the Internet accusing her of “victim blaming,” because she essentially attributed the rape to the girl’s failure to communicate to the boy what she wanted before they had sex.

“It appears you and that boy had a severe breakdown in communication, which led to your being sexually assaulted,” said Dear Abby. “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.”

In this case, Dear Abby is actually Jeanne Phillips, who is the daughter of the original Dear Abby columnist.

Dear Abby ‘Dear Abby’ Jeanne Phillips. [Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]Many articles across the web criticized Dear Abby harshly for her perception of sexual assault. As society’s understanding of rape and assault grows, people have begun to adopt the belief that rape is never the fault of the victim, no matter what they were wearing or if they failed to say “no.”

“A breakdown in communication doesn’t lead to sexual assault. Ignoring a person’s humanity and agency over his or her own body leads to sexual assault,” wrote Heidi Stevens from the Chicago Tribune in response to Dear Abby’s “lousy advice.”

The young girl who wrote to Dear Abby experienced the same brand of “victim blaming” from her close friends before she even wrote in for advice.

“I told two of my close friends about what happened,” “Uncertain in Illinois” went on. “One said he had essentially raped me. The other said it doesn’t count as rape because even though I said it hurt, I didn’t say it forcefully enough.”

Where Dear Abby should have been a voice of reason and reassurance, she may have actually made the situation worse. Many victims of rape struggle with complicated feelings of guilt and shame, often convinced they are at least partially responsible for their own sexual assault.

Dear Abby [Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images]According to Jezebel, Dear Abby already has a terrible track record when it comes to understanding what qualifies as rape. Writer Joanna Rothkopf criticized Dear Abby for giving muddled and contradictory advice on the issue.

And Dear Abby isn’t the only one confused about what rape really is. A recent study from the University of North Dakota revealed that about one third of college males admitted they would commit rape under certain circumstances, without realizing that their actions qualify as sexual assault.

In light of new data and statistics pertaining to rape, the FBI recently expanded the definition of rape in 2014 to cover a broader range of sexual abuse.

“The new Summary definition of Rape is: ‘Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.'”

What do you think about the advice Dear Abby provided? Do you think it was right of Dear Abby to blame a “breakdown in communication” for the alleged sexual assault?

[Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images]