“I thought I’d be safe there”: Pre-empting Blame in the Talk of Women Reporting Rape

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Abstract

One routine “common sense” means of explaining sexual violence is the
ideologically facilitated tendency to blame the victim, and previous research has
identified patterns of victim-blaming in the talk of perpetrators of rape, and also in that of the professionals who deal with rape in their day-to-day work. This article focuses on the discursive resources drawn on in police interviews by rape victims themselves as they attempt to account for their own behaviour in relation to the attack. It identifies and describes points within interviewees’ talk where they produce “accounts” (Potter and Wetherell, 1987), and considers what these tell us about the participants’ shared understanding of what is relevant to the ongoing talk. Occasions when there is evidence of a mis-match in the
understanding of the participants will also be discussed. The analyses illustrate
that for the accounts of interviewees to be heard as relevant, a number of
prevalent and problematic themes of victim-blaming must be assumed.
Interviewees anticipate and pre-empt implications that various aspects of their
own behaviour contributed to their attack, and interviewers vary in the level of
skill they display at negotiating these shared understandings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-109
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume96
Early online date22 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

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