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Victim Blaming

Victim blaming is holding the victim responsible for a crime or accident they have suffered. It is often unintentional and sometimes starts with good intentions, however, these attitudes are detrimental to the healing of the victims. So what are some of the reasons behind it?


In order to feel safe, we look for what it is about the victim that may have caused this to happen. This is called attribution bias. That is, attributing a consequence to a personal characteristic. She shouldn't have been with that guy. He shouldn't have taken that path. Just as to disclaim responsibility, some people blame factors outside of themselves.


The belief in free will, which is the ability to choose freely, is also often correlated with the belief that what happens to us is our fault. That we deserve what happens to us. That good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. While this belief tends to make criminals receive harsher sentences, it also puts the blame on the victims. Can we really talk about conscious choices when we have no control over the future or the actions of others?


Violence is so unbearable to acknowledge that it is preferable to discredit the person who exposes it. In order to give credibility to victims, we must first acknowledge that another person may have engaged in unhealthy behavior. This denial reflex is a defense mechanism against the inconceivable. This attitude is not supportive, it makes the victim feel guilty, aggravates the trauma, and increases the feelings of isolation, powerlessness, and insecurity experienced by the victims.


Making the victims feel responsible means taking away the responsibility of the aggressors. It is to confirm them in their unhealthy behaviors without bringing them to question themselves. While the victims' word is denied, the aggressors' version is sought and heard in order to understand and reason out these traumatic events. The line between explaining behavior and excusing it is sometimes too thin.




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