Photo by Liza Summer

In light of sexual violence, the sad and common occurrence is to find fault in the victim – yes, the aggravated and never the aggressor. How is it dangerous, and why?

Victim blaming refers to the tendency to hold victims partially or entirely responsible for the harm they have experienced rather than blame the perpetrator. It is a harmful and unjust response to sexual assault or violence. Victim blaming is dangerous for several reasons.

It’s ironic for us as a society to automatically blame the ones who were done wrong by people who clearly had evil motives acted out towards them. Why do we do that? How is it the victim’s fault for the crime to happen? In the context of sexual assault, how is this okay?

In the book “Bertha’s Son” by Joseph N. Waddy, we learn about a woman who got sexually assaulted. As if her life wasn’t easy enough before the tragedy happened, it got worse after. Readers should explore this book cautiously because it contains graphic themes like death, sexual violence, and abuse.

Let’s find out why this is not okay, as it is a rampant behavior that innocent bystanders and people around the victims often turn to.

The dangers of victim blaming.

Why is it wrong to point fingers at the victim, who was the target of such vile acts? What are the signs that we are blindsiding the oppressor, not the oppressed?

Shifting blame

Victim blaming redirects responsibility from the person who committed the harmful act to the person who suffered it. This absolves the perpetrator of their actions and undermines the accountability they should face.

Discouraging reporting

When victims are met with blame or skepticism instead of support and belief, they may be less likely to come forward and report the assault. Fear of being judged, not being taken seriously, or facing further harm can prevent survivors from seeking help or justice.

Trauma amplification

Victim blaming compounds the trauma experienced by survivors. Instead of providing empathy and support, it adds to the emotional distress, guilt, and shame they may already feel. This can further hinder their healing and recovery process.

Perpetuating rape culture

Victim blaming reinforces societal norms and attitudes that trivialize sexual violence. It perpetuates that victims are responsible for their assault, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and enabling a culture that tolerates and excuses such behavior.

Lack of accountability

By blaming the victim, the focus shifts away from holding the perpetrator accountable for their actions. This not only denies justice to survivors but also allows perpetrators to continue their harmful behavior without consequences.

Challenging victim-blaming attitudes and promoting a culture that supports survivors, believes their experiences, and holds perpetrators accountable for their actions is essential. This involves fostering empathy, educating people about consent and healthy relationships, and providing resources and support for survivors of sexual assault.

How can victims combat rape culture and victim blaming?

While combating rape culture and victim blaming requires collective effort and systemic change, here are some ways victims can take action.

Seek support

Reach out to trusted friends, family, or support organizations that specialize in assisting survivors of sexual assault. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network can help counteract the adverse effects of victim blaming and provide emotional and practical support.

Self-education about its toxicity

Educate yourself about rape culture, consent, and healthy relationships. Understanding the dynamics and societal factors at play can empower you to challenge victim blaming and contribute to changing attitudes.

Share your story (if you feel comfortable)

Sharing your experience publicly through social media or support groups can help raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and foster empathy. However, only do so if you feel safe and ready to share, and prioritize your well-being.

Advocate for change

Get involved in activism, organizations, or movements to combat rape culture and support survivors. By lending your voice, you can contribute to shifting societal attitudes, promoting education, and demanding policy changes prioritizing survivor rights and well-being.

Heal your inner wounds

Prioritize your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Engage in activities promoting self-care, such as therapy, meditation, journaling, or support groups. Taking care of yourself is essential in navigating the challenges of victim blaming and healing from trauma. Remember, the responsibility for preventing sexual violence lies with society. While taking individual action is essential, working collectively to address the root causes of rape culture and victim blaming through education, advocacy, and policy changes is crucial.

Diverting the attention to the actual enemy

Victim blaming is a damaging and dangerous response to sexual assault and violence. It shifts blame from the perpetrator to the survivor, perpetuating a culture that tolerates and excuses such behavior.

Victim blaming discourages reporting, amplifies trauma, and hinders the healing process for survivors. It perpetuates rape culture, reinforces harmful stereotypes, and undermines efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.

Combatting victim blaming requires collective action, including education, raising awareness, supporting survivors, and advocating for systemic changes that challenge societal attitudes and beliefs. By fostering empathy, promoting consent education, and prioritizing survivor rights, we can work towards a society that supports and believes survivors, dismantling victim blaming and creating a safer and more just future for all.