How To Avoid Victim Blaming And 3 Important Reasons Why We Need To Stop It In Its Tracks

victim blaming, why we need to stop blaming the victim
Contributor

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the passenger seat on my way back from dropping my brother off to college when my mom and I got into an intense conversation. We were listening to R. Kelly's song “I Admit” and that led to us talking about her disdain for him. She stated that "he had a problem" and was totally at fault for what he had been accused of doing to young girls.

The more I listened to her the more I realized that I didn’t completely agree with her. I understood that he was wrong for what he had done to the young girls, but I had a hard time accepting that he was the only one to blame. I then questioned how the girls had gotten into a position to be mistreated in the first place. I remember asking my mom, "If they had heard all of the stories about R. Kelly mistreating women, why were women continuously finding their way into his company?" 

My mother quickly stopped me and explained that when she was my age (early 20s), she thought the same way, but now that she's almost 40, her perspective had changed.

She explained that R. Kelly was in a position of power — he was an older man who was using his money and fame to not only seduce — but hurt — young girls. She went on to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.



RELATED: I Was Drugged, Robbed & Assaulted By Strangers — But The Police Blamed Me, The Victim


This statement changed my way of thinking. I realized that the women put in that situation may not have fully understood it like they thought they did. Just because someone hears bad things about R. Kelly doesn't mean that their first thought process would be to stay clear of him.

We often think, “that could never happen to me,” so we proceed on. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not until we experience something ourselves that we realize we didn’t need the experience in the first place. My mother had shown me that I was victim-blaming.

Faulting a victim for a crime they did not commit is common in our society. This is especially evident in cases where women are sexually and mentally harassed or assaulted. Many are quick to say that "it's the woman’s fault," “she was asking for it,” that she shouldn’t have been dressed a certain way, gotten too drunk, or put herself in that situation. 

Enough is enough and victim blaming is not only contagious, but dangerous. Take a look below at 3 important reasons why blaming the victim is harmful:


RELATED: How Victim-Blaming Allows Guys Like Harvey Weinstein To Get Away With It


1. Victim blaming decriminalizes assault.

When we blame the victim, we are essentially saying that assault isn’t that bad. Time and time again, people committing these types of crimes are either leniently sentenced or not charged at all, and blaming the victim in any capacity conveys to the survivor that what has happened to them is normal. That it isn’t worth being taken seriously.

When this happens, it makes it even harder for survivors to speak up about their experiences for fear of being judged and blamed for what happened to them.


2. It makes it harder for victims to speak up.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, sexual assault is one of the most unreported crimes. After being victim to one of these crimes, it is already hard enough to process what's happened — and even harder to be scared and ashamed of sharing that story. Unfortunately, many victims have learned that there is a possibility that they will be punished (in the media, by friends, family) rather than their abuser.

If victims aren’t able to speak up about their trauma, they have a harder time healing. While they are left to pick up the pieces, their attacker can continue to hurt others because they know that they have the power to scare victims into not speaking.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

3. Blaming the victim for what happened releases responsibility from the perpetrator.

We create norms that protect the perpetrator when we victim-blame. Instead of saying it is the criminal’s fault alone, what we are essentially saying is that the victim deserved what happened to them. We are insinuating that they provoked their attacker in some way, and that if the victim had done something differently they could’ve avoided it. 

This, in turn, allows perpetrators to avoid accountability. Knowing that the attention isn’t focused on them makes criminals that much more likely to repeat the time. They grow more confident that they won’t be caught and punished and continue to commit the crime. 


If you find yourself or someone else victim blaming, it's important to recognize it and stop it in its tracks. The person who committed the crime is the only person at fault.

It is easy to speak about things you haven’t experienced for yourself because you don’t know what you don’t know. Remind yourself that even though we wouldn’t wish for it, any one of us could find ourselves in a situation where we are being hurt by someone else. We wouldn’t want to have the finger pointed at us if. This is how we as a society can begin to heal as we stop making it OK for people to assault others.


RELATED: 8 Lies Gaslighting Makes You Believe About Yourself


Alexis George is a writer who covers love, relationship advice, astrology and personality topics.