When assault survivors come forward, they’re often ignored or not believed. Worse yet, they’re sometimes blamed for the traumas they’ve endured. And actress Minnie Driver understands this unfortunate truth better than many. When she was 16, Driver was in Greece when a man grabbed her and asked her to dance. She rejected him and pulled away, he grabbed her hair, she tried to kick him, and he punched her. When Driver reported the attack to police, they told her it was her fault. Now—30 years later—Driver is sharing her story to illustrate just how common and toxic victim blaming can be.
“When I was 16, I was on vacation in Greece, and this guy kinda elbow-grabbed me and said, ‘You’re going to dance with me,'” Driver told Pete Dominick of Sirius XM’s StandUP. “I said, ‘No,’ and I pulled my arm away from him, and he grabbed me by the back of my hair. I tried to kick him, and then he punched me.” She took her story to police—only to have the trauma furthered. “The way [the police] presented it was, ‘This guy was just having a good time and if you’d gone along with it, it would’ve been fine,'” she said. “‘If you’d just danced with him, you wouldn’t be in this position that you’re in now.'” In other words, had she danced with the man she didn’t want to dance with, she wouldn’t have been punched in the face. Hmm.
Driver explained that while her situation was awful, it was far from unique. “Whether it’s being manhandled, whether it’s being pushed around, or whether it’s actual physical aggression or indeed being raped—I know way too many women,” she said. And the sad truth is: She’s right. When assault survivors bravely come forward to share their stories or pursue their attackers, they’re often doubted, interrogated, and blamed. When women alleged that presidential candidate Donald Trump sexually assaulted them this month, his defenders rushed to discredit them by creating the hashtag #NextFakeTrumpVictim. When women came forward about Billy Cosby sexually assaulting them in 2014, news anchor Don Lemon offered that they could have “used their teeth” as a “weapon” to avoid oral sex, perpetuating the harmful myth that somehow these women “wanted it.” And when university students have come to their administrations with allegations of assault, they’ve often been met with criticisms, denial, and in some cases, punishment.
So no, Driver isn’t alone. But she is speaking up about what happened to her, and the good news is: We’re talking about it.