Exploratory research into the self-blaming response by rape victims and the feminist explanation of this response : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in psychology, Massey University
Following sexual assault, many women express some guilt or responsibility for their rape. This has been described as self blaming by various researchers. Two types of self blaming have been identified - behavioural and characterological. Functional theories describe behavioural self blaming as having a positive adaptive role for the victim, while feminist theorists describe self blaming as a product of women's socialisation. They maintain that self blaming is not functional, but that it serves to maintain and perpetuate a rape culture. The objective of this study was firstly to explore the self blaming response through a victim analogue study, and secondly, to examine the relationship between self blaming and the feminist explanation of self blaming. The results from the victim analogue part of the study indicate that self blaming is not purely a response to the trauma of rape. The two types of self blaming were not readily identifiable but appeared to merge into one combined grouping. A conceptual explanation for this lack of differentiation suggests that the two types of self blaming may not be mutually exclusive to each other as previously described. The second part of the study found relationships existed between rape myth acceptance and rape definition, stereotypical beliefs and sexual vulnerability.
Self blaming was also significantly related to rape myth acceptance, and this was viewed as further support for the feminist theory.