Victim blaming is a devaluing act where the victim of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment is held as wholly or partially responsible for the wrongful conduct committed against them. Victim blaming can appear in the form of negative social reactions from legal, medical, and mental health professionals, as well as from the media and immediate family members and other acquaintances. Traditionally, victim-blaming has emerged in racist and sexist forms. The reason for victim blaming can be attributed to the misconceptions about victims, perpetrators, and the nature of violent acts.
What Does Victim Blaming Look Like?
Victim blaming is an entrenched part of our society. Common sentiments are to look at the actions of the victim rather than that of the perpetrator when trying to make sense of an incident of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and/or stalking.
There is no guaranteed way for a victim to protect themself against sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, or stalking. A person can take every “safety precaution” or “risk-reduction” strategy, and still become a victim. This is because the perpetrator is 100% responsible and made a choice to assault and violate the boundaries of the victim. Sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking is never a result of any of the victim’s choices, but of the perpetrator’s actions alone.
If a person you know or care about has been a victim of abuse/assault, start by believing them. There are resources for you and the person you care about. Allow the victim/survivor to have a voice and choice in their healing journey. Healing takes time and feelings/memories of what happened can be activated by any number of different things across all of our senses, i.e. touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.
We encourage you to get the help you need for yourself and the person that you care about. Give yourself permission to heal from the traumatic incident. Take the time that you need to fully recover and allow yourself patience if the process takes longer than you anticipated. Self-care is a life long process. Take good care.