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15th Nov 2016

Outrage after teen magazine agony aunt tells girl she should be happy her rapist wore a condom

A Teen magazine is rightfully receiving thousands of complaints for the way its agony aunt responded to a young girl in need of counsel.

The Official Teenage Magazine employs Kelly Chopard as its agony aunt.

The publication describes Kelly’s column as “an open space for troubled teenagers to share their stories and in turn, receive Kelly’s tough love, and no-nonsense advice. She is a qualified professional who has many years of experience counselling youths. We treat each story very seriously.”

In an issue this month, a teen penned a very troubling letter entitled “Raped After Lying To Mum,” in which she details various events, meeting a boy, visiting his house, drinking wine and ultimately being raped.

Instead of offering the reader solace however, Kelly writes that the girl should be grateful that her rapist wore a condom and stated that the girl was a willing participant in the events.

Kelly points out the fact that the girl willingly went to the boys house.

“As you said, you agreed to stay over even after he told you there was no one else in the house. His point is that he never misled you,” she writes accusingly.

“Unfortunately, you gave every indication you were a willing player in his unfolding seduction plan. Never once did you ask for the lights to be turned on fully, saying you would be more comfortable with more light.”

Kelly calls the girl naïve and completely shames her for her actions.

“I don’t blame him for thinking you were not a virgin. You acted like a girl who has been around,” she writes.

“After this horrendous experience I expect you will not do anything foolish again,” Kelly concludes.

Kelly’s response has been so widely criticised that the magazine were forced to publish an apology.

“Kelly’s reply was largely focused on helping vulnerable girls understand the need to not place themselves in risky situations despite knowing the possible consequences. In no way does this mean that they deserve to be blamed. It simply means that they have to know how to protect themselves in a society where the definition of consent is still unclear to many,” states the publication.

“Amidst everything, we are glad that this issue was highlighted because this invites discussion about an important issue. Amongst the heated comments that we have received, we are glad to see that they all carry the same message: that rape victims should never be blamed. This discussion is overdue. Our society has to talk about consent. About how ‘No’ means ‘No’. About how the gesture of pushing away someone else’s advances should not be confused as playing hard to get, amongst other indications of unwillingness. For girls, to recognise situations that they could avoid or at the very least, be wary of. For guys to know that intimacy should never be forced – especially if the other party is inebriated. This is an important conversation to be continued,” they continue.

Kelly herself published a response on the publications website.

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She maintains that at no point did she blame the victim, but instead placed emphasis on the danger she put herself in.

“I was focusing on the danger this girl put herself in. I focused on helping her see that her behaviour sent the wrong message to the guy. She honestly stated that the guy never lied to her. “… He said his parents were going away and asked me to stay over, I said yes”. She admitted she knew they have no maid.”

“I wanted everyone to know the danger of sending the wrong signals. He definitely got the wrong signals. When she arrived she says, “He grabbed me and kissed me”. I said she should have left but stated, “However, I believe you didn’t have a clue what he had in store for you”. Again there is no blaming her.”

She continues, further defending her response.

“There is no intention of “victim blaming”, just an attempt to point out that one’s actions have consequences and the sad fact, for me who really cares for everyone writing in, is that many young people today take risks and put themselves in precarious situations resulting in unhappy outcomes.”