• randi857

WHAT IS VICTIM BLAMING?



We hear a lot about victim blaming in the news and on social media, and I consider that a good thing. It is an issue that needs to be addressed and changed because it causes re-traumatization of victims and allows perpetrators to get away with their crimes.


Victim blaming is placing full or partial responsibility for a crime or situation on a victim's shoulders. This plays out by people either asking questions that seek to find blame or accusing a victim of doing something wrong to bring about their situation or attack.


If you think you may be the victim of abuse, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


One outcome of victim blaming is that victims don't feel safe coming forward with their story. They are concerned about being judged, not believed, and even blamed. This only serves to allow perpetrators to get away with acts of violence.


Here are several victim blaming phrases and behaviors:


  • HE/SHE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER - If he/she didn't go into that public bathroom or wear that dress or walk in the park alone. This implies that the victim made a choice that caused the situation.

  • LACK OF EMPATHY/UNABLE TO SEE A PERSON'S PERSPECTIVE - It can be a challenge to see a situation from another person's viewpoint, especially when there are a lot of differences in lifestyle/income status/race/gender/ability. A person might assume that a victim deserved their treatment because of these perceived differences.

  • THEY WERE "ASKING FOR IT" - When a rape victim was wearing a short skirt or flirting with the guys in the bar, some might say that she set herself up for being attacked. This is not the case because a rapist's actions are his/her own responsibility. The way to reduce the number of these crimes is to place the blame back where it belongs.

  • THEY SHOULD HAVE FOUGHT BACK - It is easy to assume that when a dangerous situation comes our way, we will act bravely and heroically. We need to remember that if we have never experienced a violent or frightening attack, we truly have no idea how we will respond. Our body can kick into fight/flight/freeze mode which can leave us acting in unexpected ways, including giving in until the attack is over.

  • ASSUMING IF THEY "DID THE RIGHT THING", IT WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED - This mindset is our human way to feeling safe. If I assume that avoiding a certain behavior (or, on the flip side, doing a certain thing) will keep me safe, I might assume that the victim is to blame because they didn't "follow the rules". This is why victims get questioned on things like "what were you wearing?", "were you drinking?", "were you flirting with him?".


Victim blaming does not serve to help anyone, it only allows perpetrators to get away with their crimes. Victims need to be supported and advocated for after their attack. We can start by believing them and placing blame where it belongs - on the perpetrators.


If you think you may be the victim of abuse, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


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