\u201cYou know, if you don\u2019t want to entice a rapist, don\u2019t wear high heels so you can\u2019t run from him. If you\u2019re wearing something that says \u2018Come and f--k me\u2019, you\u2019d better be good on your feet\u2026\u201d Surprisingly, this statement isn\u2019t the gaffe du jour of a Republican presidential candidate \u2014 it comes from Chrissie Hynde, the frontwoman for the Pretenders, who once penned the line, \u201cI\u2019ll never feel like a man in a man\u2019s world.\u201d For over 30 years, the singer has been the driving force behind the band, which has, in its multiple incarnations, sold more than 25 million records and garnered widespread respect, in part for her lyrics and persona evincing a kind of femininity that's tough, wry, and regally detached\u00a0while\u00a0still bristling with a very human need. In one of the band\u2019s most famous songs, \u201cBrass in Pocket,\u201d Hynde\u2019s voice shifts between a tease and a command in the same verse: \u201c\u2018Cause I gonna make you see \/ There\u2019s nobody else here \/ No one like me \/ I\u2019m special, so special \/ I gotta have some of your attention \/ Give it to me.\u201d The women artists who came after her considered her a rock'n'role model. Madonna famously recalled seeing Hynde perform in Central Park back in 1980. \u201cShe was amazing: the only woman I'd seen in performance where I thought, 'Yeah, she's got balls, she's awesome!'," Madge said. "It gave me courage, inspiration, to see a woman with that kind of confidence in a man's world.\u201d Hynde\u2019s position as one of the most powerful, influential women in rock makes her comments all the more devastating, a misplaced display of bravado from a woman who had an early hit covering \u201cStop Your Sobbing.\u201d Her remarks come from an interview in The Sunday Times originally intended to promote her memoir Reckless, which includes, among the memories of her ascent as the black-jacketed goddess of Rock Olympus, the story of her rape at age 21. A member of a motorcycle gang promised to give the young Hynde a ride to a party and instead drove her to a vacant house, where he assaulted her. However, in her account within the memoir, and to her interviewer, there is none of the righteous rage to be expected from the victim of such a vicious crime: \u201cThis was all my doing and I take full responsibility,\u201d Hynde says. \u201cYou can\u2019t paint yourself into a corner and then say whose brush is this? You have to take responsibility\u2026 I mean, I was na\u00efve.\u201d Hynde\u2019s na\u00efvet\u00e9 is far broader and more damning than she supposes, particularly in her unforgiving assessment of what other women should do to prevent their own rapes (spoiler alert: it\u2019s that bitter old chestnut about hemlines and cleavage). Her words are like embers of a still-lit cigarette tossed casually in a trashcan, and they have ignited a blaze of rebuttal online, including a powerful essay by Lucy Hastings, director of the group Victim Support. I'm a survivor of domestic violence and sexual abuse myself, a child who was told that being hit with a belt was \u201cdiscipline,\u201d that I deserved to get slapped in the face for yawning during homework time and setting off one of my father\u2019s \u201cbad moods.\u201d As a child, I was told by my own mother and a therapist I was forced to see in my teens, that the neighbor boy (a few years older and more than a few pounds heavier than I was) who stuck his hands down my skirt, stuck his fingers inside me, almost every day for two years, was \u201cjust exploring, like kids playing doctor.\u201d As such, I should light my own torch with Hastings\u2019 fury. And yet, I can\u2019t stoke the coals. I feel only a cold sadness for Chrissie Hynde because I remember what it was like to be crushed by the stone-press of denial. Hynde\u2019s clipped, elliptical account of one of the worst moments of her life \u2014 \u201cWhen you play with fire, you get burned\u201d \u2014 resonates with me; or rather, with the woman I used to be, who froze out her terror and rage in an Arctic cynicism, who cloaked her wounds in a \u201cso over it\u201d attitude. I believed that I was the architect of my greatest suffering because that\u2019s what my parents taught me, because that\u2019s what they learned from a culture with a bedrock of \u201cboys will be boys,\u201d an entertainment industrial complex in which violated women are objects of intrigue (whether they\u2019re on CSI or SVU, Game of Thrones or the Lifetime movie of the week), and a legal system that often doles out more jail time to drug dealers than rapists (assuming said rapists even see the inside of a courtroom). There is another, equally powerful force crackling through this current: a desire to be in control. Because if I was too rowdy, too loud, then I deserved to be hit, and if I deserved to be hit, there was some semblance of logic, of order,\u00a0however brutal, to the world. To every action, an equal and opposite action. For years, I wouldn\u2019t use that scarlet A. What happened to me wasn\u2019t abuse, it was discipline, \u201cplaying doctor.\u201d As a teenager and young twenty-something, I listened to co-workers espousing the values of corporal punishment. I would nod along when they\u2019d say that they\u2019d taken an ass-whooping or two, and it made them smarter, stronger, and more resilient. I was even known to say, with a wry laugh, that I\u2019d been hit, too, and look where I was. I had a scholarship, a job. I learned to ignore that sizzle at the back of my head, the sound of some desperate animal trying to claw under an electric fence. Reading the comment sections in thinkpieces about Hynde tells me that I am not alone in my digging. One commenter on Jezebel's writeup talked about being raped in her own bedroom: \u201cI woke up at 3 in morning with a knife at my throat. And I still blamed myself.\u201d Another commenter said that \u201ceven my most feminist of female friends who have been assaulted try to shoulder some of the blame.\u201d A commenter who described responding to sexual assault calls at a hospital echoed this sentiment: \u201cWhen I responded to hospital calls, they would spend a lot of time thinking and critiquing their own actions.\u201d These people, like Hynde, like me, can spend a lifetime divining a perfect alchemy of self-blame, a set of runes and codes where leaving the window cracked, or accepting that ride, or looking at our father \u201cthe wrong way,\u201d or letting the neighbor boy take us out for ice cream, conjures the ache to end all aches. We do this because living under the glass jar of appropriate hemlines and moderate drinking (or better yet, total temperance), walking with our keys between our knuckles (and always in a well-lit area, never in a shortcut), getting alarm systems and buddy systems, feels safer than the alternative: an unfathomable wilderness where we can be badly hurt just because the wrong man happens to walk under our windows, or picks us up on his motorcycle, or lives one court over, or gives us his last name. Believing that I brought my abuse on myself was like living with a shard of ice hovering inches from my heart, that one wrong move would stake me. But every time I leave the house, I risk that one wrong move. That one wrong move is called life. After several years and many panic attacks, and with the help of gifted therapists, I started to accept \u2014 slowly, painfully, and with many hiccups of \u201cIf only I\u2019d \u2026\u201d \u2014 that only my abusers were to blame for my suffering.\u00a0I lived in a cruel, violent world among cruel, violent people, and that yes, it could happen again. For the sake of all survivors, it\u2019s vital that we shout down the rape apologists, even if they\u2019re people whose work we would otherwise admire and are victims themselves. Chrissie Hynde\u2019s remarks are infuriating, but they\u2019re also heartbreaking \u2014 a dispatch from that glass jar. Her efforts to justify her own assault speak to how deep the hooks of rape culture have sunk inside her, and how profoundly she\u2019s been scarred. So, somewhere inside the furnace of our collective rage, there should be a soft gray spot of sympathy for her, since she could not manage to feel it for herself. Some days, knowing the truth that what happened to me was never my fault makes me feel smarter, stronger, more resilient; other days, it stings and throbs with the full pain of thawing. But it is not a corner I\u2019d painted myself into, it is an open room where I can forgive, and embrace the girl I was, because I know that the only people to blame for her pain are the people who abused her. And I hope that somehow, someday, Chrissie Hynde finds that room.