How to Reduce Victim Blaming
Victim blaming, which is when a victim of crime or wrongful act is held at fault for their suffering, can be particularly traumatic. It can also lead to a greater feeling of shame, and can make it harder for victims to connect with people who can provide support.
It can be hard to know when someone is blaming a victim, especially when it’s not clear what they mean or why they feel that way. Experts say that if someone asks “why” questions, makes qualifying statements like pointing out if they were drinking when the abuse occurred, or otherwise suggests that they did something wrong or contributed to the trauma, this is often a sign of victim blaming.
In the United States, a lot of us have been raised in a culture that values individual control over our lives. This culture can cause us to believe that the things we do are always responsible for what happens to us, and this can cause us to victim-blame.
Among other factors, cultural context and moral values can contribute to this tendency. Studies have shown that people who place a higher value on the rights of individuals are less likely to blame others for their misfortunes.
There are a few ways to help reduce the tendency to blame a victim, and these can include encouraging empathy. Additionally, offering solutions that could help to alleviate the suffering of victims can help to reduce the need to blame them.
One of the most basic ways to minimize the risk of blaming a victim is to make sure that they are receiving proper care and assistance. Whether that means seeking professional treatment or speaking with a friend who has been in a similar situation, these steps can help to ensure that the victim is getting the support they need to move forward and recover from their crime.
Another key factor that can impact how a person responds to victim blaming is their character. Some people are more prone to blaming respectable victims than those who are not as respected, and this can be explained by the theory of just-world bias, which was first developed by Melvin Lerner in the 1960s.
Observers in one of Lerner’s experiments were instructed to observe a subject who was being shocked repeatedly by electric shocks, and they were asked to describe how likable or morally worthy the victim appeared. Those who had just watched the victim receive shocks were more likely to blame her for her suffering, while those who had been told that the victim was not really hurt in the experiment were less likely to do so.
In other experiments, observers were shown videos of a child being beaten, and they were then asked to describe the victim’s characteristics. Those who had been told that the child was not actually hurt during the video were less likely to blame her for being abused.
Survivors of sexual violence and other types of crime are often victims of victim blaming, and this can have a significant impact on their recovery from trauma. It can increase their feelings of shame, make it harder for them to connect with people who can support them, and ultimately stand in the way of a successful recovery.