By Tuesday Bowen
People are made to be victimized in many different scenarios: sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and any given wrongdoing onto a person victimized said person. Although there are different ranges of severity for victims, it does not invalidate how he/she was victimized nonetheless.
Not only do typical citizens engage in a culture that alienates and blames victims for their own victimization, but even law enforcement often takes part in this stigma. Statements in response to a trauma that read, such as “Well, what did you do?” or “You were asking for it,” only fuel the harmful culture that is victim blaming. One thing to know is: victims are never at fault. However, society often deems them as so.
“Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that befell them,” according to The Atlantic.
No matter the severity of the harm inflicted on a victim, there is a prevalent society standard that blames victims. In sexual assault cases, women are taught that, depending on what they wore, said, or ingested, they somehow were asking it. On the other hand, men that fall victim to sexual assault are often characterized by society and blamed for “not fighting back.”
Regarding manipulative and emotionally/physically abusive relationships, whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial, somehow the abuser always gets the easy end of it, because they are not criminalized as they should be, while the victims of said abuse are blamed. Just last year Brock Turner, a rapist on multiple accounts, was sentenced to only six months of incarceration and three years of probation. Not only did him being white and a Stanford student positively impact his case, but also because of rape culture and the stigma of victim blaming.
If a person is abused, he/she are questioned as to why he/she never left, and often put out to be the own cause of the abuse that he/she endorsed. There are a million different ways that people subtly and boldly blame victims, which is often something that abusers themselves do the most. The constant victim blaming that circulated in our society is the reason that many victims of any given abuse are terrified to admit to it, press charges, or even get help.
Being manipulated or scared into staying in an abusive relationships does not de-victimize you. Victims are not at fault for feeling too trapped to be able to leave or not realizing they need to. Their abuse does not need to define them, and they do not need to stay a victim. Abusers are always the ones at fault, never the other way around.