Peace Corps Pulls 'Blame the Victim' Rape Video After Women Complain


Rape Victims Tell Stories on Video

After the three-minute introduction, the tape segues into interviews with "three returned Peace Corps volunteers [who] have agreed to tell their stories of sexual assault to help you protect yourself."

Separately, the women explain their idealistic motives for joining the Peace Corps, and mention that they were warned by the organization how to keep safe.

"Peace Corps does an excellent job of reiterating to you over and over," says one woman, "that safety is a huge issue and you are unusual, you are a target. But I never imagined I would be attacked."

Each of the women then lays out a similar scenario that involves excessive drinking and ending up in an isolated, unsafe situation with an attacker. One woman reports being raped by a colleague, another by an acquaintance, the third by the father of an acquaintance.

"I was inebriated," concludes one of the women. "When you're drunk you do a lot more stupid things. ... And looking back there are certainly other ways that I could have, other choices that I could have made instead of going to a bar and endangering myself."

Former Peace Corps volunteer Karestan Koenen, who testified at Wednesday's Congressional hearing on violence against Peace Corps volunteers, said "that video does nothing but continue the culture of blaming the victim of sexual assault." Karestan, who was raped in Niger in 1991, is now a clinical psychologist specializing in trauma, and teaches at Harvard and Columbia. Jess Smochek, who testified about being gang-raped in Bangladesh in 2002, called the tape "horrific." Smochek was among the women who spoke to ABC News for an investigation of violence against Peace Corps women that aired earlier this year and sparked Wednesday's hearing.

WATCH Part One of the "20/20" report

WATCH Part Two of the "20/20" report

WATCH Part Three of the "20/20" report

At the hearing, Peace Corps director Aaron Williams promised that the Peace Corps would stop showing "Serving Safely" to incoming volunteers immediately. Said Williams, "I am going to replace the video immediately, because I've listened very carefully to the victims and their view of the video. " Koenan, Smochek, and several other returned Peace Corps volunteers met with Williams on Tuesday and gave him their opinions of the video.

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Williams also promised lawmakers that the agency would make big changes in its handling of assault cases. "Rest assured, this type of thing, blaming the victim, will not continue in the Peace Corps of today," said Williams.

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