Victim Blaming:
If We Blame The Victim
Do We Excuse The Abuser?

What is it?

Victim blaming is the act of holding the victim of any misfortune partly or fully responsible for the misfortune. The victim can be someone who suffered in a natural disaster, a girl victim of a rampage shooting, bullied victims or male rape victims.


Why does it happen?

The most obvious reason it happens is that the victimizer puts the responsibility on the victim in order not to have to suffer any consequences. The car thief says the victim left the car open so 'it's his own fault'. The rapist says the victim was 'asking for it'. The cult leader says the members choose to stay and are free to leave any time they like.

This also applies when the victimizer is a group, for example, religious groups who blame the victim for being sinners and deserving the misfortune, a government in power blaming the people for having to increase taxes etc.

This phrase 'asking for it' typically means that the person is trying to blame the victim.

More subtly, however, is the attitude of people outside the situation.

"If she was raped, she shouldn't have been in that place dressed like that."
"If he joined that cult he must need someone to make his decisions for him."
"If she stays with that wife beater, she must like it."
"If he left his wallet on display, he was asking for it to be stolen."

In other words, 'They are not like me. I am different. That would never happen to me".

Victim blaming allows the outsider to maintain their sense of being in control of their lives. But this sense of security is often false. Thinking it will never happen to you is no guarantee that it won't happen.

And what happens when this person subsequently has their wallet stolen? They have no difficulty feeling victimized!


How it limits the victim

When a person is a victim of some misfortune there is often a mixture of guilt, shame, fear, helplessness, anger, denial and betrayal.

Being held responsible for the misfortune by others often amplifies the magnitude of these feelings. For example, if the victim feels helpless already, being told by others that it was their fault will only increase any sense of powerlessness.

It isolates the victim further, too, in several ways. First of all, the victim is much less likely to come forward and seek help for the abuse if they think they are partly or fully to blame. (Of course, this means the abuser gets off scot free!)

Secondly, the victims of certain abuses are often deliberately shunned by certain societies. For example, in some places, women who have been raped are considered worthless and may not be allowed to marry, are divorced if they are married, may be disowned by family and friends or even exiled. This is called secondary victimization, and it is further traumatization of the victim because of the customs or taboos of the society.

Victim blaming also sends the message that what the abuser did was acceptable. This is devastating for the victim. But it also means the abuser gets away with it and allows them to continue doing what they do.

If the victim feels responsible in whole or in part for the misfortune, it is expected that they need to change in some way to prevent such things happening again. But the need for the abuser to change is often overlooked or ignored, and this is disastrous for society where abusers are allowed to go free and continue doing the same thing to other victims.


Mind control victims and victim blaming

In mind control situations, victim blaming is actively used to continue the manipulation of the victims. The abuser leads the victims to believe that they have chosen freely and therefore they are responsible for what is happening to them.

For example, the cult leader who verbally abuses his students and then says that he has to do that because of the limiting beliefs of the person. Then he tells the victim that 'it is for your own good'. On top of this, if they stay in the group, they must want more verbal abuse, until they are 'better' or 'fixed'.

Or he tells the students that having sex with him is an honor, the way to evolve further, the way to liberation and eventually they come to believe that they have decided to have a sexual relationship with him. That they have chosen freely. When, in fact, he is sexually abusing them.

Another example of victim blaming is the abusive husband who tells his battered wife that he is beating her as a response to her bad behavior, a behavior that she chose.


What can we do about victim blaming?

When you hear statements where the victim is blamed, challenge them.

Don't accept the excuses of the abusers. Challenge them as well.

Keep in mind that even though you may not have made the choices that the victim did, does not mean that they are inferior, bad or stupid. It's difficult to understand another person's experience, unless you have experienced it too. You cannot understand why a person did what they did, unless they tell you.

Reassure victims that it is not their fault. They can never hear this often enough!

If you recognize abuses and you say nothing, you are condoning the abuse, in effect you are saying that you see nothing wrong.

And if you are a victim, especially of mind control, it is vital that you learn about it in order to undo the effects of it and take back your own life.

Like this page?

Tips for dealing with psychopaths and narcissists

Fortnightly newsletter with practical tips and ideas
Learn more...
'7 Vital Do's and Don'ts of Decision Making' when you subscribe!