Victim Blaming

victim blaming

Victim blaming is a common form of social exclusion that gives non-victims the illusion that they can control their own fates by reassuring them that bad things only happen to people who “deserve it” or who somehow invite them by making poor choices. This is an incredibly dangerous and harmful myth that prevents people from reaching out for help and enables predators to feel justified in their acts of harm. Victim blaming silences victims by discouraging them from seeking help and reporting crime to the authorities.

It’s important to remember that victim blaming isn’t always as obvious as a radio show host like Metzger. It can be more subtle, like when someone shrugs and says “well, they were drinking” in response to a case of sexual assault. It can also be as insidious as telling someone who was robbed that they “shouldn’t have left their purse in the back of the car” or telling a person whose property was stolen that they should’ve had better security for their belongings.

Regardless of its form, it’s still a harmful practice that needs to be addressed in the media, schools, workplaces and homes. It can have lasting effects on a survivor of trauma, leading them to believe that their experiences were somehow their own fault or that they could have avoided them by behaving differently. It also keeps people from reporting incidents to police, thus contributing to the cycle of violence and abuse.

The term victim blaming is often used to justify and normalize sexual, physical and emotional abuse and assault. It can be a way to reinforce harmful stereotypes and attitudes about women and men, and can even contribute to the development of unhealthy and toxic relationships that may lead to domestic violence and child abuse. Victim blaming is also linked to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, that can have long-term impacts on the well-being of survivors.

It’s important to be aware of how easy it is to engage in victim blaming. It can be unintentional, and can appear in the form of comments such as “oh, they were so drunk that night” or asking a person who was raped if they “knew they were going to get attacked”.

Victim blaming can also take on a more subtle form when people are dismissive of a crime, for example, saying “it happens in that area” or insinuating that a person who has been robbed didn’t make the right choice by living in an unsafe neighbourhood or city. It can also include telling people whose property was stolen that they should’ve had better insurance or “shouldn’t have been in there in the first place”.

In the same vein, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not a person’s choice to live in an unsafe or natural disaster-prone location and that there are ways they can mitigate these risks. It’s also important to separate a person from their behaviour, so that we aren’t asking young people who share nude photos online what they could have done differently.