In a new interview with the Sunday Times, The Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, 63, revealed she was sexually assaulted when she was 21 by a motorcycle gang member. But Hynde said the attack was “all [her] doing,” a statement which drew criticism from groups like RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.
“Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility,” Hynde told the Sunday Times. “You can’t f— about with people, especially people who wear ‘I Heart Rape’ and ‘On Your Knees’ badges … Those motorcycle gangs, that’s what they do.”
She goes on to say, “If you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.” “If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk?” she said. “Who else’s fault can it be?”
RAINN responded to Hynde’s comments in a statement about how that kind of victim-blaming hinders progress. “This feeling of self-blame, described by Chrissie Hynde, can often prevent survivors from coming forward and getting the support that they deserve,” RAINN VP of Communications Katherine Hull said. “Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a sexual assault, a victim is never to blame. The responsibility always lies solely with the perpetrator, no matter what.”
Pretenders fans and critics also erupted on Twitter, and The Guardian’s Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett wrote an essay about being disappointed in someone who she calls a hero.
“So many women are enculturated to blame themselves for their own assaults,” Cosslett writes. “Next time one comes along, let’s not just shout her down. Instead, we should repeat those four important words and continue to say them, every day, for as long as they are needed, perhaps forever: it’s not your fault.”