With many spotlights in the news about sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, there arises victim-blaming, and most people have heard of it. But what is it exactly? And, why does it matter?
“Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of a form of physical violence by a partner in their lifetime. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.”
Are there really 20,000 people per day asking to get hurt by their partner? Does 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men like being hurt by their partner? These questions are rhetorical, but they are associated with statements often made when blaming the victim for abuse.
- “They were asking for it because they provoked them”
- “They must like it because they stay”
- “Why don’t they just leave?”
- “They were both drunk / they both have problems”
These types of attitudes are dangerous because it reinforces what the abuser leads the victim and society to think, it is the victim’s fault, not theirs. But, it is not the victim’s fault that they are being abused, it is the abuser’s choice. If the abuser feels provoked, they could choose to walk away from the situation this is an act of self-control.
A main reason people engage in victim-blaming is to distance themselves from the problem, if they push it away from them, they can believe that this situation could never happen to them.
“People reassure themselves by thinking, ‘Because I am not like the victim/survivor because I do not do that, this would never happen to me.’”
But by having these attitudes, victims and survivors of abuse will not feel safe coming forward about their experiences, they might choose not to report it for fear of not being believed. This allows the abuser to not be held accountable for their actions, and they will probably continue with the same victim or a new one.
How can it change?
Transforming the question, “why do they stay?” into “Why does the abuser abuse?” is a good place to start because it puts the responsibility on the abuser. Do not agree with excuses from the abuser and do not let them blame the victim, alcohol, or drugs. Learn more about domestic violence by reading our blog about domestic violence from the perspective of a life-long advocate and professional. Learn about effective bystander-intervention. If you still aren’t sure, read our blog about mental health and domestic violence from a mental health professional.
Contact The Shelter to speak with a trained advocate, 800-931-7233