Changing the culture that leads to domestic violence.

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Devaluing Survivors of Violence

Devaluing Survivors of Violence

We’ve all heard the words “victim blaming” when we talk about sexual assault, domestic violence, homicide, and sex trade workers, but when you look more closely you realize that it is a tool used to devalue victims/survivors of violence. Victim blaming is used as a way to hold the victim/survivor responsible for some or all of the violence committed against them. The blame can come from people in the victim/survivor’s life, the judicial system or police, social service workers who are not well-trained or educated, or the general population.

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Where Does Victim Blaming Start?

Blaming victims/survivors starts with our attitudes towards certain types of abuse and towards different types of people. Some victims of crime receive much more attention and caring than others. As a culture, we have ideas about what victims/survivors and perpetrators look like. When something happens that we find difficult or upsetting it’s much easier for us to fall back on our misconceptions than face the ongoing trauma in our community. The portrayal of victims/survivors and perpetrators in the media and on social media also plays a role. The use of language that is part of consensual sexual terms like “seduced” rather than “sexually assaulted” can create an atmosphere where blaming the victim/survivor is acceptable. Victims/Survivors see behavior every day that tells them they deserved to have a crime happen to them.

How Can We Fight Back?

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The most important thing that we can do is make sure that blame is focused where it belongs, on the perpetrator of abuse or violence. There is nothing that a victim/survivor could ever do to deserve sexual assault or domestic violence. Standing up for victims when we see or hear victim blaming can sometimes put us in an uncomfortable position, but it’s an important thing to do. Victims/Survivors see the media stories, hear the jokes, and read the comments. By supporting victims in all areas of our lives we make victim blaming less acceptable and help create a more trauma informed culture.