Breaking the bias behind victim-blaming

By Anna Schmader
February 6, 2022

“According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a rape or attempted rape occurs every 5 minutes in the United States,” Inside Southern said. 

More specifically, rape culture and victim-blaming. The saying “boys will be boys” and “she was asking for it.” Breaking that stigma is crucial in the onward effort to help victims who’ve been manipulated and abused. Coming to terms that something traumatic has happened to you is easy, especially when it has to do with being exploited.

“Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies and the glamorization of sexual violence,” Inside Southern said. “Thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.”

One of the many harsh experiences that survivors come to confront is the actual coming to terms with what has happened. “If the survivor knows that you or society blames her for the abuse, s/he will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward and talking to you,” Inside Southern said. 

“One effect of victim-blaming is the subsequent effect it has on the reporting of further crime,” The Canadian Resource Centre, for Victims of Crime said. “Victims who receive negative responses and blame tend to experience greater distress and are less likely to report future abuse.”

Stripping away the stereotypes and bias behind victim-blaming could positively affect survivors to get help in their healing journey. By helping survivors feel like they have a supportive community, they can rely on to advocate change can provide positive impacts on survivors, even those who refuse to report the crime.

To further emphasize the issues behind victim-blaming, dating back to the 1900s, sexual harassment/rape court cases blamed the victims for being provocative, seductive, suggestive, teasing or “asking for it,” The Canadian Resource Centre, for Victims of Crime said. There should be no blaming an individual according to how they dress, lifestyle choices and/or any other background, in the case of sexual assault/abuse.

Examples of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Infographic by Anna

Another circumstance of victim-blaming is relationships. Girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife or partner. Intimate partner violence (IPV), violent crimes against intimate partners, includes behaviors that one intimate partner (current or former) uses over another to establish power and control. Emotional abuse, sexual coercion and stalking/obsessive behavior are familiar terms that fall under IPV. 

The National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), an ongoing survey that collects the most current and comprehensive national- and state-level data on intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking victimization in the United States, found that approximately half of Americans reported experiencing lifetime emotional abuse by a partner.”

Blaming a partner for staying in a relationship that’s abusive has more negative than positive impacts. There may be tiny details of the abuse that occur within the relationship that has the partner to stay where they are. As relationships continue to last, the abuse may increase and victims may be unaware of the fact it’s unhealthy. 

Having a supportive community for survivors will provide an open port for them to rely on if/when that time comes. Making a safety plan, NOT blaming, shaming or guilting the person for the position they’re in and showing concern for their safety are all valid paths to help. By educating the environment we’re set in, advocating for change and help, there can be a positive impact on victims getting the help they need.

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Anna Schmader

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