Hynde in 1979. (Photo: Getty Images)

Fans were pretty pumped when Pretenders bandleader Chrissie Hynde announced that she was writing a tell-all memoir back in March. But now the release date for that memoir, September 8, is approaching, and Hynde has transformed that excitement into an unsettling cyclone of disappointment and sadness by going on record blaming herself for her own sexual assault in a recent interview.

Referring to the motorcycle-club member who raped her when she was 21, Hynde says, “You can’t fuck about with people, especially people who wear ‘I Heart Rape’ and ‘On Your Knees’ badges … those motorcycle gangs, that’s what they do.” Basically saying it was her fault for being there in the first place, she says, “You can’t paint yourself into a corner and then say whose brush is this? You have to take responsibility. I mean, I was naive … If you play with fire you get burnt.”

Adding that women who dress provocatively and get drunk around men should hold themselves responsible if they are assaulted, she adds:

If I’m walking around and I’m very modestly dressed and I’m keeping to myself and someone attacks me, then I’d say that’s his fault. But if I’m being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone who’s already unhinged – don’t do that. Come on! That’s just common sense. You know, if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.

Knowing that Hynde has gone around for the past 40-plus years blaming herself for such an awful thing, and that she doesn’t seem to realize that there’s another way of understanding what happened—“I don’t think I am saying anything controversial, am I?,” she says at the end of the interview—makes us kind of sad for her. But for an influential person like Hynde to spread attitudes that discourage sexual assault victims from seeking help is profoundly disappointing as well.

To this end, Lucy Hastings, director of the U.K.-based charity Victim Support, has released a statement in response to Hynde’s interview, reprinted in The Hollywood Reporter:

It is critical that nothing deters victims of sexual violence from coming forward to the police or to independent organizations so they can get the help and support they need. Victims of sexual violence should never feel or be made to feel that they were responsible for the appalling crime they suffered, regardless of circumstances or factors which may have made them particularly vulnerable.


In the U.K., victims of sexual assault can find information, counseling, and links to local resources on the Victim Support website (the organization has separate resource pages for women and men), and in the U.S., similar support can be found through RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

[h/t Consequence Of Sound]