Understanding Victim Blaming

The more I work in this field, the more I see the insidious victim blaming that is occurring in the societal narrative, the words of abusive men, and even the so-called mental health helpers in the field.

If I am to leave a critical message to the those working in this field, the most crucial words I could say would be, “There is no neutral position when it comes to victim blaming” (Coach Joi)

There is no good “why” or reason for victim blaming. Full stop!

Victim Blaming Defined

Victim blaming is a devaluing and dismissing verbal or behavioral stand against an individual or group of abuse, violence, crime, or accident, that when acted upon, incriminates in whole or in part, the responsibility for the acts which were committed against that individual or group.

Who Are the Victim Blamers

Victims of violence and abuse are often blamed by the one committing the act of abuse or violence. They are equally blamed by society. They are blamed by people helpers, including mental health professionals. They can even be blamed by friends and family who should be able to see the effects of the abuse and violence to the degree that they would offer appropriate support. 

It is unbelievable that people outside of the marriage or event will blame the abused and oppressed victim, especially when they have witnessed its effects.

What Victim Blaming Can Sound Like

The statements listed below may be upsetting to read. It is important to be able to recognize the various ways blame can be stated.

  • She’s insecure, so she puts up with what he does to her.
  • She often puts herself in incriminating situations (I saw her at the corner bar in “that” outfit last Friday).
  • Her father used to beat her mom, what do you expect?
  • Why did she stay if he was really abusive?
  • She was taught better. Why doesn’t she submit the way the rest of us do?
  • It’s not rape if she’s married to him.
  • If it is as bad as she says – why doesn’t she leave him?

These types of statements and many others are the societal narratives we all have heard. These statements presuppose that victims can always do something about the abuse or violence. Thus, any outcome is their fault.

All forms of abuse and violence are unilateral. 

Let me state that again – there is nothing a victim does that results in her being at fault for abuse. Abuse is the unilateral act of harm against the will and well-being of another human being. 

One more important statement; “It is the egregious narratives of legal or other people helpers who suggest that victims attract this type of individual” (Coach Joi).

Victim Blaming Explained

Victim blaming can be viewed as saying, implying, or treating a person who has experienced harmful or abusive behavior like it was a result of something they did or said. 

When victims are blamed and abusers socially exonerated, instead of being held accountable for their violence and abuse, we create a socially acceptable narrative that supports violence. No one loves this more than the men and organizations who are trying to conceal their egregious, exploitative, and false-entitlement-minded narratives inside the corruption of social moral relativism.

As stated above, there is no neutral ground, no “Switzerland” when it comes to blaming victims for the behaviors of abusive and violent men.

Other Victim Blaming Phrases

There are other ways that victim blaming occurs. That is in the mutualizing phrases that of terms we have accepted as normal language references. For example,

  • Abusive relationship – This reference presupposes that both parties in this relationship equally abuse, therefore the relationship is an abusive one. Relationships are entities. They are not actors. As such, they cannot be abusive. However, an individual in that dyad can abuse the other individual. 
  • Domestic violence – Another equally problematic term commonly used in the DV field also carries with it a mutualizing and blaming narrative. Domestic violence, like abuse, is the unilateral action of one party against the will and well-being of another. It is not a mutual act where both are acting in a harmful manner against one another. 

Anytime we are referring to a unit or entity, we need to be cautious not to assign action to that unit. People act for themselves or upon another in a coercively controlling way.

Speaking the Truth

“Violence and abuse against women by men has no place in our society. We are calling on women men to speak out and not allow themselves to harm women and children or support those who do, by keeping quiet, Men women by speaking out to effect change and help restore safety and dignity for all humanity” (Center for Peace)

Put an end to Victim Blame Culture

Jackson Katz, Ph.D., a well-known influencer in the battle of men’s violence against women has said, 

     “Identifying domestic violence or sexual assault or sexual harassment as a women’s issue is to refer to a form of victim blaming. It shifts the accountability, it shifts the conversation, it shifts everything onto the shoulders of women rather than the people – the men – who are doing it to them” (voicesforchange, 2021).

It is important to understand the vast majority of violence is committed by men. If men are ducking and dodging responsibility under the guise and act of language concealment to blame the victim, how will we stop this social narrative?

The answer can be summed up in this profound statement, “You can’t have peace on earth unless you have peace between men and women” (Hudson, 2014).

As human beings interacting with one another every day, we need to be concerned about these interactions and the impacts on our social fabric. When we are divisive in any way, when we uphold hegemonic mindsets either in the political, legal, medical, or business industrial complexes we promote the very ill-formed narratives that results in this victim-blame culture. 

This is all about the subordination in family law, exploitation and violence of all types are the issues that as Jackson Katz has said men need to see as their role in making the world a better place.

A True Power Shift

Violence against women is epidemic and therefore – so is the egregious blaming of victims. The real shift of power is in the reformation of equality for all people. It is in the securing of dignity for all human beings. 

At Center for Peace, our mission is to teach the principles and tenets of relational dignity and safety. If there is anything we as a global community should be entitled to – it would be the right to engage in safe, dignified interaction and movement within our social interactions with one another.

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