Sisterhood Agenda

Victim Blaming – How Do You Respond to It?

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Victim-blaming is too common, especially towards women who are victims of sexual assault and abuse.

This is the primary reason why victims of abuse don’t speak up:  they are afraid people will judge them and blame them.

It’s a very disturbing trend to blame the victim instead of the perpetrator.  Yes, this is really happening.

Photo Credit: Reddit

It’s sickening

There are several high profile cases in the United States, such as in Steubenville, Ohio where male high school football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year-old student.

The girl was under the influence of alcohol in a high school party and was unable to give consent.

Many individuals have weighed in and reacted to the trial.  Most of them harshly blamed the victim for being raped, despite the strong evidence against the perpetrators.

In the Philippines, it is very common to blame the victim especially when the victim was intoxicated when it happened.

Photo Credit: NKMandic, Adobe Stock

Women are often told on social media that it was their fault; that they shouldn’t have been drinking alcohol with men or that they shouldn’t be wearing provocative outfits or they never should’ve put themselves in risky situations.

Even in some cases where a rape victim is perfectly safe before the sexual assault happened, totally sober lying peacefully in her bed with doors locked,  people will still ask, “Why didn’t you fight back?” “What were you wearing?”

Several questions boggle my mind…

Why does the victim get all the blame? She didn’t ask for it to happen. Why does victim blaming happen anyway? What’s the psychology behind it?

The psychology behind victim-blaming

Photo Credit:

Why do people blame the victim?

It seems like most people blame the victim because of meanness or a smug sense of superiority. However, there is another explanation behind it.

Specifically, psychologists believe that our tendency to blame the victim may originate, paradoxically, in a deep need to believe that the world is a good and just place.

According to psychologist Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, people blame victims because of their”positive assumptive worldview.”

Most people believe that the world is good and that good things happen to good people.  The world, they want to believe, is a just and fair place.

That is why, at an early age, we were accustomed to believing in Santa Claus and good samaritans. It is ingrained in our being that the world is basically good.

People are not naive, we are aware that bad things happen to good people.  However, when it does, we are in denial.

In addition, most people believe on a deeper level that “what goes around comes around.”  So, the brain fights so hard to maintain this belief.

And that is the reason why people blame the victim.  They think that she must have done something that resulted in the abuse.

When awful vile things happen to someone who’s just like us, this threatens the belief of a world that is just and good.

It’s like a defense mechanism.  Basically, people are terrified that if one person can be a victim of rape or assault, it could happen to them, too. So, they mask this fear with victim blaming to comfort themselves.

They believe that the good has to be rewarded and the evil to be punished.  Therefore, people blame the victims for their own misfortune.

Responding to victim-blaming

1. You need to remind yourself that you are the victim and it wasn’t your fault.

Victim blaming may come from society, family or friends or even from yourself. You need to constantly remind yourself that it was not your fault.

You may dissect the and replay in your mind everything you’ve done to convince yourself you’ve messed up. Stop punishing yourself by doing this.

People who victimize other people do it because of their own issues.

2. Confront your negative emotions.

Photo Credit: theformfitness, Pexels

You have to confront those negative emotions because it’s the only way you’ll be able to let go and move forward.

  • Face it head-on, acknowledge what you feel. Close your eyes and let yourself feel those emotions, even if they’re painful. Give them names such as Anger or Guilt. (This is similar with the coping techniques done during a panic attack.)
  • After acknowledging them, tell yourself and tell these emotions that they do not have power over you. Imagine these emotions flying away like balloons and watch them disappear.
  • Use relaxation methods like progressive muscle relaxation or meditation, do this exercise daily.

READ MORE:  10 Signs to Recognize Trauma

3. Cut off toxic people in your life.

People who have suffered from trauma are more sensitive. In addition, you may encounter people who won’t believe you, blame you or worse, belittle what has happened to you.

You should not be around these people as it won’t be good for your emotional and mental well-being. If you have co-workers, friends or relatives who do this, distance yourself from them.

4. Seek professional help.

Seeking professional help will also allow you to talk about what happened, off-load your feelings to someone who won’t judge you and knows about the coping strategies.

Look for a mental health professional and counseling services that focus on trauma. Open up if you have feelings of depression and self-harm since these can be side-effects from the abuse.

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  1. As a father, what should i say to my daughter who makes herself vulerable and weak when she drinks to much? I want my children to be of sound mind and body and to be able to fend off any would be pepertrators if needed. I agree 100% the perpetrator is at fault. I also think assaulters look for weak targets and i want my daughter to not be a weak target. My position has hurt my relationship with my daughter and i dont see what is wrong with it. Please respond because i have no one to talk to about this.

    1. I commend you for being concerned about your daughter and sharing those issues here. However, it’s disturbing to hear you say that your daughter “makes herself vulnerable and weak when she drinks.”

      If your daughter is legal to drink alcohol, she is not doing anything differently than other young women her age. Drinking or even being intoxicated does not give anyone the right to harm her and if she drinks to the point where she is “not of sound mind and body,” anyone who touches her could be charged with a crime because it is illegal.

      Have you talked to her daughter about why she drinks? If she consistently drinks to the point of complete intoxication and lack of self-control, it sounds like she needs help.

      I doubt that she purposely makes herself “a weak target” as you might believe. You used the word “weak” several times. “Weak” is a label that lacks empowerment, particularly when describing women, and is often not helpful. And this type of thinking, unfortunately, is why the article is about victim-blaming. Victims are not weak or somehow deficient:

      Women who are victimized are not victims because they did something wrong; they are victims because someone did something wrong to them.

      Still, it is helpful for your daughter to know how to protect herself, especially against sexual assault. All daughters should. The buddy system works well where she always has a friend with her, one who never leaves her by herself (I mean, even to go to the bathroom).

      She can also strengthen herself by becoming resilient. Instead of looking at ways in which she is weak, it is helpful to look at ways in which she is strong, courageous, and smart. Read: Strength, Courage & Wisdom.

      I am not sure if drinking is the cause as much as a symptom of something more going on with your daughter. I would look further into this and even suggest professional therapy to get to the root causes of excessive drinking.

  2. Rather the above quote should be worded as follows:
    Persons who are perpetrated against are not victims because he/she did anything wrong; he/she is a victim because the perpetrator chose to do wrong against him/her.

  3. I was a victim of domestic violence till I was almost killed. My ex was so stupid and thought that he could not be sentenced. He was but got a ridicular prison sentence. After that he was determined to destroy me for ruining his life. I had to be realocated and also underwent some plastic surgeries due to beatings.
    Then I had a scenario after 15 years when I was crossing a road when I could hear a massive scream. I instictively looked at that direction and saw him. He smirked and called me by my name and I sad no..He repeated it and replied no and walked away. He was confused and luckily stupid enough – he stopped all the traffic to get out of the car to do this.
    He has been always violent, narcistic and low of of IQ but I do not understand why he cant let go and holds me accountable.

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