Before you read, please be aware that this post may cause TRIGGERS for you as the reader. I ask for all victims and survivors of domestic violence who read my blogs to take caution when reading as I do not want my blogs to cause any triggers or flashbacks intentionally.
I think we all need to be aware of how fragile victims and survivors are. When I say they are fragile I am focusing more on mentally than physically. In previous blogs, I have talked about the effects all forms of abuse have on the victims mind.
Victim blaming is something that seems to happen more often than people realize. I think it is because they are not consciously aware of the things they say or even their body language.
So what does it mean to victimize? It basically means to make someone feel like they are the ones responsible for what has happened to them.
This is one of the major reasons why MOST victims do not press charges against their abuser(s). The fear of not only reliving the events that have taken place, but also the fear of what people will think or say.
For example, how many of us have seen or heard when a female goes to the police after being raped, she is asked: “Well what were you wearing?” or “How many drinks did you have?” “Did you say or do something that would have led him on?” When I have seen that these questions have been asked I immediately get bad. Why do any of these questions matter? Who cares what she was wearing or how many drinks she may have had?
Another example, “If they abused you like you say they did, why would you go back that many times?” or “You are married, how could he/she rape you?”
Now looking at those examples above one may think that is coming from the justice system. Actually, those same questions come from friends, family and associates as well. How do you think this would make the survivor feel? It is critical when talking to a survivor to choose your words wisely. I’m not saying you should have to walk on eggshells (they are already doing that themselves). What I am saying is to be aware of the questions you ask and the comments you make.
So, how is victim blaming dangerous? Making the survivor feel as if they are at fault for what happened to them can cause them to not speak out and come forward. They will not feel safe talking with you. When someone leaves an abusive relationship, trust is a huge issue for them. If they feel like they cannot trust the people closest to them they will internalize everything.
Victim blaming can all cause the survivor to believe that everything the abuser has said has been true all along. They will feel as if the abuse they endured was actually their fault and will put the blame on them. They will internalize everything, therefore the abuser could get away with the crime.
You may be asking yourself if you have ever been the cause of victim blaming and if so, how you can change your outlook. One way is to stop thinking that it could never happen to you, Never think that because you are different then a survivor you may know, that it cannot and will not happen to you.
Domestic Violence knows NO boundaries. Domestic violence is not picky and does not only happen to a specific group of people. This way of thinking needs to change in order to prevent the blaming from happening in the first place.
Placing the survivor and the abuser on the same level is another way of victim blaming. What do I mean? When people say things like “Oh, he/she shouldn’t have provoked him/her or it wouldn’t have happened.” That right there is saying that the victim is just as much at fault as the abuser. Look, no matter what someone may say or even do, there is no excuse for them to deserve to be abused. NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ABUSED! Not physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally, financially, etc. Another way to prevent victim blaming is to STOP listening to the abuser’s excuses. Again, there is NO excuse for it. Alcohol, drugs, and stress are not excuses. Their words abusers use to make gullible people feel sorry for them and not the victim. An abuser will try to talk bad about the victim. They are manipulative and narcissistic. Anything to take the blame and focus off of them no matter the cost.
Remember, if the survivor comes to you and opens up to you about his/her abuse it is because they feel comfortable with you. Use this opportunity to build them up, not tear them down. Encourage them, remind them that it is not their fault. Let them know that they are not alone. Most importantly, LISTEN! Do not interrupt them, do not shut them out. You do not have to have a degree to listen. You do not need a degree to allow them to use your shoulder to cry on. All a survivor really wants is for someone to listen. Do not think that some of the things they tell you are exaggerated. I can tell you they are not!
You may get bits and pieces of the story at different times during their healing process. It does not mean that they are making things up. What it means is that as they heal they are remembering different times and instances that their mind had blocked in order to protect them. Did you know that our brains can do that? It is called repressed memory. The term repressed memories refers to the rare psychological phenomenon in which memories of traumatic events may be stored in the unconscious mind and blocked from normal conscious recall. repressed memory theory claims that although an individual may be unable to recall the memory, it may still affect the individual through subconscious influences on behavior and emotional responding. Repressed memories have been reportedly recovered through psychotherapy (or may be recovered spontaneously, years or even decades after the event, when the repressed memory is triggered by a particular smell, taste, or other identifier related to the lost memory). However, there is debate within the scientific community regarding the trustworthiness of recovered memories and the ability to distinguish them from pseudo-memories.
This is where PTSD comes in. Please see my past blogs where I go into detail. I linked two right below.
To end off, I just want to remind everyone to feel free to reach out to me on social media with any questions. The more people know, the more survivors will feel safe to come forward and the closer we will get to putting an end to domestic violence.
The end doesn’t just start with survivors, it starts with society.