The victim-blaming pandemic.
“She must like the abuse”
“She was asking for it dressed like that”
“Why didn’t you just leave?”
“Why didn’t you fight back?”
“Maybe if you hadn’t drank so much, he wouldn’t have raped you.”
REALLY? I mean…really people? These are just a few of common victim-blaming statements I have either heard personally or seen online, on people’s Facebook accounts, etc. This behavior is insane! It has come to my full attention that victim-blaming is not just a social media or occasional problem. This is a deadly pandemic.
Blaming victims instead of their abusers does a significant amount of harm in many ways. In my personal experience, after hearing “why didn’t you just leave” and “why didn’t you fight back” I withdrew into myself, became more depressed than I already was, blamed myself further and eventually attempted suicide. I attempted to take my own life…that is how much power their words held. (And I am not alone, millions of people go through this every day). The victim-blaming that was put on me also caused me to not pursue justice against the men who did unspeakable things to me against my will. Obviously, years later, I have found the strength to change my mind, but the sad truth is waiting even a few weeks after destroys evidence and chances of conviction. Sometimes it’s not possible to prosecute your attacker, please know I am not getting down on anyone who hasn’t, but if at all possible, please try. At least try. I wish that I had of immediately. Placing the blame on the victims also empowers all perpetrators to continue hurting others, but also to further “justify” their actions. People who rape, beat and abuse others tend to have severe mental health issues such as narcissistic personality disorder (just to name one). Although I am not a psychiatrist, I have experienced people like this throughout my life. These people truly believe they can do no wrong. It is so dangerous for victim-blaming behavior to strengthen their belief that what they did is not wrong.
Here is a link to several public service announcements that were eventually discontinued due to their victim-blaming nature. Several of them implied that women wouldn’t be raped if they would just drink sensibly.
Good sources for more on why victim-blaming is a pandemic that needs to be stopped NOW:
I absolutely recommend that everyone read this brave woman’s story. I stumbled upon her story here: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/02/im-a-victim-blamer-but-only-when-the-victim-was-me/
Please know that it can be triggering, but her story (like many others) helps me to not feel alone, and to be reminded again that nothing that happened to me was my fault and I have every right to have justice and closure and to move the hell on with my life. Her story also brings up another great point that I didn’t even touch upon. Gender does not matter here and neither does sexual orientation. Perpetrators come in all genders, sexual orientations, colors, sizes, occupations, religions, everything. I don’t give a shit if you are white, black, Asian, southern Baptist, catholic, atheist, male, female, straight, pansexual or whatever…you have no right to touch me, make lewd comments to me, kiss me, or anything else without my consent. Your religion or lack thereof does not justify your actions. Nothing does. It is wrong, PERIOD.
There is a large portion of the world’s population (America is no exception) that need to realize how poisonous, hateful and ignorant their views on victims are. Victims of violence no matter if it’s sexual, verbal, psychological or physical do not volunteer or deserve their abuse. Victims of violence also do not deserve to be blamed by the public and made out to be sluts. Comments like “why didn’t you just leave?”, “why didn’t you fight back?” and my personal favorite: “your outfit invited it” are pure asinine and hateful. No one can truly understand why someone didn’t “just leave” or “fight back” until they are placed in a situation people like I have survived. One very common reason people like me didn’t “just leave” or “fight back” was straight up fear. Until you know what it is like to be threatened with death, torture or the death of loved ones if you leave or fight back…you have no opinion. I like many others was a victim NOT A VOLUNTEER of severe, brutal, cold-blooded torture and abuse that damaged me in ways that will never be reversible. Yes, I was a victim. My past is NOT my fault, nor will it ever be. But the beauty is…my present and my future are mine and I will not let anyone take it from me. Now that I am on my journey of healing I have taken responsibility of my future and it will be a great one. Please, I urge everyone reading this to take inventory of themselves especially if you have ever found yourself blaming the victim and not the perpetrator…please see how cruel, hurtful and wrong these views are…and most importantly, see that these beliefs (especially when made public) allow the abuse, assault and violence to not only continue…but to thrive.