By Sophearith Dareth
If you are reading this, please take a moment to consider the following questions before continuing:
Have you ever heard of the term “victim blaming”?
Do you know what it means?
Have you ever blamed a victim?
Why do we sometimes blame them?
And why should we stop?
Whether or not you have the answers to the questions above, I hope that you continue reading this open letter. Because this letter is for everyone.
I’m writing this to you not only to inform or raise awareness. Because sometimes, awareness is not enough. Awareness does not always bring people the incentives to act.
What I want is for YOU, yes YOU, to do something about victim blaming.
I want you to stop doing it.
But to do this, you have to understand exactly what “victim blaming” is first.
Victim blaming is a form of a disparaging act that occurs when the victim(s) of a crime or a violent act is held responsible for the crime that has been committed against them, according to The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.
After reading the definition, does it ring any bells to you now?
If that’s so, then here are some examples:
- “Oh, he was robbed last night because he stayed out too late. He shouldn’t have done that”.
- “Why did you put your wallet in your back pocket? How can you be so careless? You know that there are thieves everywhere!”
- “She’s a girl! She shouldn’t have gone home late at night like that alone! That’s why she was raped”.
- “Yeah! She was asking for it! I mean, not only that it was late, she was kind of asking for it. Her dress was too revealing!”
These are only some examples of victim blaming.
Instead of admitting the fact that no one would ever want to get pick-pocketed, robbed, or worse be sexually assaulted, we blame the victims.
The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime also states that:
Individuals do not want to consider the possibility of losing control over their life or body; by deciding that a victim brought on the attack themselves, they create a false sense of security. This reassures people that as long as they do not act as the victim did at the time of their attack, they will be invulnerable.
Very often, we take for granted of the fact that it was actually the criminal who committed the crime, not the victim. But, as much as we try to deny it, people still sometimes blame the victim instead.
Now that you know what “victim blaming” is, we must ask ourselves this: why do we do it?
If you are aware of and are against victim blaming, can you think of reasons why do people do it?
The “just world hypothesis” can explain about why people possess this particular behavior.
According to the Atlantic’s Sherry Hamby, editor of American Psychological Association, “It’s this idea that people deserve what happens to them. There’s just a really strong need to believe that we all deserve our outcomes and consequences”
Obviously, no one would ever want, or deserves, to bear the responsibility of a crime that was committed against them. However, people still have a tendency to blame the victim just for the sake of not wanting to admit or think that something just as terrible might happen to themselves. Therefore, victims are held responsible instead.
Just because we want to feel safe, we blame the victims.
Seems wrong, right?
The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime continued that victims can experience emotional distress and also reduces the willingness to report future abuses. “Victims who have been blamed prefer to avoid secondary victimization in the future, so they do not report further crime”.
I would like to take this opportunity to talk about a program of Action Aid Organization called “Safe Cities for Women”. This organization states that:
Right now, in every city, in every country, women can’t go to work or university, use the bus — simply live their lives — without the threat of sexual attack. Often they’re even blamed for being attacked or harassed. And it’s much worse for women living in poverty, who don’t have the means to find safe living conditions, bring their attackers to justice, or simply access refuges and hospitals safely. Women have their right to come and go in their cities violated.
This program also encourages people to reach out to their government, local authorities, and public service providers to promote safe cities for women.
Sadly, at the end of the day, we all need to understand that in every society crime does exist in some form or another. So we do have to act safely.
Why don’t we instead try to prevent crimes from happening by making the criminals and attackers take responsibility for what they did?
People should blame victims for the things that happen to them. Every crime is the perpetrator’s fault, not the victim.
Instead of projecting fears onto victims of crime, we need to strengthen and enforce the law against rapists and criminals so that everyone can be safe, and we can bring justice to those who need it.
See you in the next post. ❤
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.