4 Rules To Follow While Writing About Sexual Violence

By- Shambhavi Saxena

18th December, 2017

As writers, we are charged with the task of drawing society’s attention to instances of sexual violence that often get normalised or ignored in the mainstream. But there are various ways that our writing also contributes to the problem.


“Here’s A List Of 4 Things To Keep In Mind While Writing About Sexual Violence”

When we attach the word “victim” to a person, we take away their agency and reduce them to  distraught individuals. The outcomes of this are trauma, mental health issues, diminished self-esteem, and diminished trust in the legal system. Swap this word with “survivor”.

Survivor, Not Victim

Asking For It’

Nothing in your reporting should indicate that a survivor was inviting trouble. It doesn’t matter what time of day it was, what clothing was worn, what substances were consumed, or what the survivor’s sexual history is. All that matters is that the act was non-consensual.

Do not reveal the survivor’s name, address, or current whereabouts. Some survivors openly talk about their experiences, but the choice to do so is in their hands, not yours. The people you’re writing about have a right to privacy and safety.

Protect The Survivor’s Identity

‘Men Are Raped, Too’

.Report on the violence men face. But get rid of the “too”. It’s enough to say that sexual violence is targeted towards men, and end there. All too often, this phrase comes up as a response to instances of VAW to de-legitimise female oppression.

The next time you sit down to write, remember these points. It will ensure your reporting is sensitive, non-discriminatory. After all, our writing shouldn’t rely on negative stereotypes, or disempower survivors of sexual assault.