Jane Doe: Audience Responses

20 August 2017

By Eleanor Bishop & Karin McCracken from Jane Doe 
Header Photo: Peter Jennings
Content warning; discusses sexual violence

One of our favorite parts of Jane Doe is when the audience text in their responses during certain points in the show. They’re projected live and often form a kind of anonymous conversation between audience members and points of tension when discussing sexual violence.

“I’m thinking about what I can do to help people who have experienced or will experience rape”

Great question which I think about a lot. In our experience, one of the biggest things to remember is to ask what that person wants, or needs. Some people will want to talk about it, and others won’t. Some people will want to go to the police, others (in fact, the overwhelming majority) won’t. We need to respect that there’s no “right” way to respond as a victim of sexual violence. Biggest things to remember when someone discloses sexual violence - tell them that you believe them, tell them that it’s not their fault, and check if they are safe now (in the event that the abuse is ongoing).

Our friends at Edinburgh Rape Crisis have more information about how to support someone.

“I wish I had prosecuted the guy who raped me”

There’s a lot of pressure on people who have experienced sexual assault to respond the “right” way. Lots of people think that reporting to the police is an obvious and straightforward response. Of course, in reality, it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, is often re-traumatising, and, crucially, doesn’t necessarily result in charges being laid, let alone a conviction. So: I completely understand and respect the decision of all survivors who choose not to report to the police.

I’m sad to hear that this person feels that they chose the wrong path. People can still seek prosecution for sexual assault years after it happens - so it is possible that this person could explore this, but it is potentially more difficult to pursue evidentially. If anyone is trying to decide whether or not to report, call your local Rape Crisis Centre. They can explain to you really clearly what the process will look like, and talk you through any concerns.

“It’s not just women that get raped”

Absolutely. Men are also victims of sexual violence. As well as this, male survivors face different difficulties - research shows that reporting rates are much lower overall for men. Men are also less likely to tell friends or family about their assault. We know from talking with male survivors that the feeling of shame and stigma attached to their assault is often intense, and than classic gender norms and our ideas of ‘masculinity’ have a major part to play in this.

Jane Doe is not a show that is specifically about male sexual assault. However, we are conscious of the reality of sexual violence happening across all genders and in no way intend to alienate or exclude male survivors from the narrative.

“Sad that women who don’t feel objectified on the street somehow feel less adequate than those who are . We have a strange badge of honor in this society”

Yes! I think about this double bind we are in all the time. That’s the thing about systems like these - you can see the system, appreciate that it’s messed up, but still have totally internalised all it’s rules and norms. I wish the guys who objectify me on the street were forced to think about what they’re doing as much as I end up thinking about it.

Jane Doe joins Assembly Festival from 3-28 August 2017 at 15:00 @ George Square Studios – Two. For more details check here!