Victim Blaming

victim blaming

Victim Blaming is a common phenomenon in which victims of crimes, tragedies or other negative experiences are held partially or completely accountable for their misfortune. This is a very harmful attitude and often deters victims from coming forward for fear of being blamed or judged. It also shifts the focus away from holding the perpetrator accountable.

It can be very subtle and difficult to detect. For example, blaming a victim of insurance fraud for taking too much risk or not being careful with their money. It can also be subtler, like telling someone who got mugged that they should have been more cautious and prepared in case of an attack. Victim blaming can be done to any victim, but it is most commonly seen with raped or assault victims, people in poverty and those from minority groups.

Many people are unaware that they are victim blaming. It is a normal human tendency to feel protective of our worldview and want to believe that our experiences are fair. When this doesn’t happen, it feels like a threat and we look for rationalizations to make the experience seem more normal.

The problem with victim blaming is that it not only makes us feel safer, it also reduces the likelihood of reporting the crime or incident to police. Whenever we blame victims, it makes them less likely to report the crime and creates a cycle of victimization that can be very difficult for survivors to break free from.

One of the main reasons victims of crimes and other negative experiences are blamed is because it comforts us to think that our worldview is fair and that good things only happen to good people. Sadly, this is not the case and bad things can happen to anyone at any time. The most common reason that victim blaming occurs is when people are confronted with evidence that their personal worldview is being challenged.

This is why it is so important to be aware of victim blaming, even when you don’t think you are doing it. We all have the capacity to victim blame, but when we recognize it in ourselves, we can stop it.

Examples of Victim Blaming

Rape or sexual assault victims are frequently blamed for “promiscuity”, alcohol or drug use, their state of dress, being out after a certain hour, etc. This explains why so many victims do not come forward to report a crime, as they are afraid of being blamed and made to feel ashamed about their experience.

It is also very common to blame victims of theft and other crimes for their poor decisions or lack of caution. People who are robbed might be blamed for not being more careful, or for leaving items out in the open, or for living in a dangerous area where burglaries occur frequently. Likewise, disaster victims might be blamed for not preparing adequately or moving to a safer location. The list goes on and on, but the point is that blaming the victim can make it harder for survivors to get help and support after experiencing a traumatic event and may prevent them from coming forward altogether.