State Senator and firearm advocate Amanda Chase’s comments advanced a dangerous misunderstanding of the causes of rape.
If you are not carrying a firearm and get raped, you got what was coming to you — at least according to Senator Amanda Chase.
On July 3, the Virginia State Senator for the 11th District engaged in a Facebook argument on her public page, after a discussion on whether women should feel comfortable walking through their neighborhoods or local parks without a concealed-carry weapon.
“It’s those who are naive and unprepared that end [up] raped,” Chase wrote. “Sorry. But I’m not going to be a statistic.”
Chase received immediate backlash, with her post going to Reddit as many accused her of victim-blaming by making a blanket statement that the actions of female rape victims are catalysts for their own attacks. The post has since been deleted.
“A majority of people who are raped are raped by someone they know,” said one Reddit user. “Unfortunately, carrying a weapon in the park simply doesn’t protect folks from the majority of their attackers. It isn’t naive to expect that a friend, family member, or loved one isn’t going to harm you, and having a weapon doesn’t protect those who freeze or shutdown during an attack.”
According to RAINN, eight out of ten rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, while only 19.5 percent of rapes are committed by a stranger. By suggesting that walking around without a firearm could invite rape, Chase not only affirms her own dismissive naivety on the topic, but invalidates the experiences of the majority of rape survivors, which occur with someone we previously trusted, cared for, or even loved.
In response to the backlash, Chase posted a statement on her Facebook page including a video. At no point does she apologize; instead, she clarifies her statement as a means to defend her Second Amendment rights.
“I am here today because once again the leftist media, the leftist blue Virginia, and the trolls on my Facebook page are taking my words and twisting them into something that is not true,” Chase said. “As many of you all know, I’m a champion for life, I’m a champion for the unborn and for innocent life, and I’m also a champion for our Second Amendment, which I believe protects innocent life. I’m actually a concealed carry permit holder, as many of you all are, and I believe … as a woman who jogs through public parks, that the ability to carry my firearm is important.”
Chase, who previously worked as the campaign manager for fellow provocateur Dave Brat in 2014, failed to clarify or qualify her statement that effectively accused women of facilitating their own rapes.
She went on to urge women to arm themselves as a form of protection. She sympathized with female domestic violence and rape victims, and stated she had been a victim of child abuse.
“I was actually scorned on Facebook by these leftist trolls for actually exercising my Second Amendment right to carry a firearm while I’m running through a public park,” Chase said. “I said it is important for us to be prepared, meaning equipping ourselves for the unexpected.”
However, this is not the first time Chase has been the cause of her own controversy. She established herself as an outspoken, bold politician after her first election win in 2015. In January of this year, she openly carried a .38 caliber firearm in a custom holster during a Senate committee meeting, claiming it was “a deterrent for over-exuberant folks.”
“Certainly, she has made an impression on the General Assembly,” Bob Holsworth, a longtime political analyst in Richmond, said to the Chesterfield Observer. “For a relative newcomer, she has a relative profile that is much higher than you normally see from a new member of the General Assembly.”
In March, Chase openly berated a Capitol Police Officer for not allowing her to park her vehicle in a particular lot. While Chase claimed she had a right to be there, the officer needed proof of permission to fulfill the request.
Officer Ashley Berryman wrote in her police report that Chase became “very rude and irate,” refused to move her vehicle, blocked traffic, used foul language, and called her ugly names.
Chase denied ever doing any of these things, but cited fear for her safety over parking in a lot without police presence, as she had received threats after speaking against the Equal Rights Amendment. In response, Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard withdrew his endorsement for Chase, and criticized a Republican Board of Supervisors candidate for not doing the same.
“A lot of [law enforcement] that I’ve talked to are very dismayed by the manner in which she treated Officer Berryman,” Leonard said. “It just shows a pattern, I believe, of lack of respect for members of law enforcement.”
Chase is up for re-election in November. Her challenger, Amanda Pohl, is a social worker who has worked closely with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, and is an avid activist for victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Top Photo via Lori Haas/Twitter