It’s a common occurrence: you turn on the news and see yet another story about a victim of a crime. Immediately, people start to blame the victim. They ask what the victim did wrong, why they were at that place, or how they could have prevented it from happening. These people don’t realize that victim blaming does nothing but harm victims and perpetuates the cycle of violence. This article will explore the dangers of victim blaming and discuss why it needs to stop.
Blaming the victim
Blaming the victim relates to the tendency of the victims of adverse events in the case that they are responsible. Victim blame is shared in many cases but is particularly prevalent in sex aggression cases. Assailers generally are more liable for sexual assault than victims. Victims are sometimes blamed as well, but the degree can vary considerably depending upon the characteristics of an incident.
What does Victim-Blaming look like?
Victim-blaming is a typical response to reports of sexual assault and other crimes. It is often perpetuated by cultural stereotypes and myths about victims, such as the belief that only certain types of people are victims of crime or that victims must have done something to deserve what happened to them.
These beliefs can make it difficult for victims to come forward and report their experiences, as they may fear that they will not be believed or that they will be blamed for what happened. Some people blame a victim because they want to dispel the unpleasant event, thereby proving their insurability to the threat. In labeling and accusations a victim, other people will see them differently. They calm themselves by thinking; I can’t be like her because I can’t. We must help everyone understand the problem.
Examples Of Victim Blaming
Some people might say that a victim of sexual assault is to blame if they were wearing provocative clothing or if they had been drinking. Others might say that the victim is at fault if they didn’t scream or fight back. These are all examples of victim-blaming, and they can be very damaging to the victims.
Rape culture is a cultural environment where rape is prevalent and whose violence is routinely tolerated and excused by the media. Rape culture is perpetuated by using misogynistic language, ignoring women’s bodies, and glamorizing sexual assault, thereby creating an environment that violates women’s rights.
Why is it dangerous?
The victim-blame attitude marginalizes victim/victim-survivors. If you think the survivor is responsible for the abuse, she may not be safe enough to tell you about it. The victim-blame attitude reinforces that it happened to victims, and there will be no fault on the victim in fixing the issue.
By using victim blame, social groups allow victims to perpetrate relationship abuse or sexual abuse without clear accountability for their actions. This can lead to more crimes going unreported and perpetrators getting away with their crimes.
Additionally, victim blaming can further traumatize victims. When someone is already dealing with the aftermath of a crime, the last thing they need is to be blamed for it. This can cause them to doubt themselves and feel at fault.
Most straightforwardly, the measure of “blame the victim” is simple but differs considerably in literature—generally, the researchers present participants with an example of a sexual assault case. The researchers determine blame, others assess the perception of responsibility, and other researchers employ a mixture of the two. Blame is generally defined by value judgment on how much responsibility one should have for a negative outcome and perhaps suffering a consequence.
We searched online for research literature that combines the keywords rape and sexual assault as victims’ blame. We also limited our date and acquaintance rape to electronic databases, including PsycINFO. Other papers were identified through forward and back-search using references from recovered articles and earlier reviews on Google Scholar. One hundred thirty-seven of these articles have been evaluated according to our inclusion criteria.
Perceived Similarity and Prior Victimization
In assessing the blame and the victimization, it can be crucial that the extent to which people identify with the victim is determined by comparing the time they are perceived. Perceived similarities with victims may increase empathy for her experiences and reduce the amount of blame.
However, it can become more apparent if more similar feelings arise, especially among female observers, which increases feelings of personal threat or disengagement. Unfortunately, just three studies measure similarity and blame for the victim based upon acquaintance rapes; their results are inconsistent.
Gender Role Attitudes and Identity
Rape myth endorsement significantly correlated to restrictive beliefs concerning women’s roles and rights. In recent studies, victims’ responsibility in acquaintance rape has positive links between the blame and support of traditional gender roles.
The researchers concluded that after controlling for gender role endorsements, their findings showed that men were blamed more than female victims; gender role behavior might predict the blame better than participants’ gender.
Rape Myth Endorsement (RME)
As mentioned earlier, some researchers use RME to identify victims’ faults. This issue is problematic since rape myths focus on stranger rape. Nevertheless, RME can have the advantage of evaluating the cause of particular acquaintance rape.
Individual Factors on Victim Blame
The study of victims’ blame for acquaintance and rape has examined several variables, but only several of these factors produce the same conclusions. The development of a demographic profile determining the type of person who blames victims is limited because there is a limited lack of racial/ethnic and national differences and a lack of studies. There is some evidence that males support racial myths more than women.
Victims and perpetrators
The study of the role of race in rapes in acquaintance rape cases is primarily about race and not race as the determining factor of the crime: only five studies examined the role of victim race/assistant race concerning the case. It’s problematic since more non-white people have suffered violence than white women (Black and others 2011 ); Many mythologies surrounding the sexual assaults also depict black male assaulters and white women as victims.
Force and resistance
According to Law Definition, rape includes reference to force, so it is not surprising if studies on acquaintance raping frequently use force and resistance. Among the variables manipulated in Shotland and Goodstein (1993) were the amount of power used ( verbal, verbal, and physical ), the level of victim resistance, and the initiating time of the victim’s resistance. The opposition by an individual victim did not influence the perception of victim blaming.
Very little research examined whether participants’ race and ethnicities influence rape victims’ blame for a friend’s encounter or another person. Some studies were not consistent with this. Bell et al. (1991) study analyzing students’ reaction to a “typical” date racial situation (victim assaulted after a date) has shown no impact on victim relationship race. However, Casarella-Espinoza (2015) found that more Hispanics blamed victims than Caucasians were more frequent.
Appearance and Sexual History
Several research studies can describe factors related to an individual’s sexual characteristics and sexual orientation (sexual orientation, a past sexual partner, and sexual orientation in an acquaintance rape scenario), although not always as a whole as studies comparing stranger rape.
A person pursuing political conservatism may be prone to accusing a victim of sexual assault. Anderson et al. 1997. Lambert and Richardle (2000) characterized this relationship with three different measures of conservatism: Self-rate of conservatism, Social dominance orientation ( SIDAnius 1996 ), and Protestant working ethic beliefs: As with every action, the more politically conservative the group cited their victims, the greater the guilt they gave.
Summary of situation level factors
Alcohol abuse is common amongst sexual assault victims. In research, it is evident that many sexual assault scenarios have such features. However, little study has been conducted into how the effects of drinking on victims’ blame have been assessed based solely on the intoxicated individuals. In most of these cases, evidence suggests an increase in victims’ fault while alcohol consumption by defendants reduces the degree to which they blame.
Predictors of Victim Blaming
Studies about victims blaming for rape often evaluate participant responses to provided vignettes. Usually, these vignettes consist of a third-person writing report relating to a sexual assault. Here we list some typical elements used to manipulate acquaintance-rape scenarios and their corresponding findings; of the 102 studies evaluated, however, merely 51 incorporated all methods in the published accounts.
Given that sexual abuse is gendered, it is surprising that several studies have evaluated the role gender plays in assessing blame for sexual assault by participants in sexual violence. Gender may affect victim blame. On the other hand, rape, mainly being a problem with females, may cause them to blame more for the lack of group solidarity. Then the “Just world” ideology is also prevalent.
Belief in a Just World (BJW)
It is often believed that people blame victims for their actions to reclaim their belief that “good things happen to good people & bad things happen to bad people.” The theory of BJW described victim-blaming as a faulty belief system. But there is little empirical evidence for a correlation between just world beliefs and victim naming at acquaintance rapes (Landry and Raichle, 2000;
Presence of Drugs/Alcohol
Generally, drugs and alcohol are connected with a rape case, specifically on a college campus. In some research studies, alcohol is linked with sexually aggressive behavior. 34 of the 10 acquaintance rapes in the identification literature mention alcohol. This includes not the widely used Abrams et al. (2003)
Why Victims Blame Themselves
Victims may blame themselves because they feel like they could have done something to prevent the attack from happening. They may also feel like they are being punished for something they did wrong. They may also feel like they have to protect their attacker or keep the secret of what happened out of fear of retaliation. Victims need to understand that they are not alone and that there are people who can help them through this difficult time.
How To Deal With Victim Blaming
You can do a few things if you find yourself being victimized and blamed. First, remember that it is not your fault. Second, try to find someone who will believe and support you. Third, seek professional help if needed. Finally, keep yourself safe by minimizing contact with the person or people blaming you.
If you are being blamed for something, remain calm and collected. This can be difficult, but it is essential to remember that the person blaming you is likely feeling scared or threatened.
Try to empathize with them and offer help if you can. However, if the situation becomes too intense, remove yourself from it and seek safety.
If you or someone you know is being victimized and blamed, resources are available to help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 support for victims of domestic violence.
You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) for confidential support. These resources can help victims find the support they need to heal and move on from victimization. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Victim blaming is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. It’s important to remember that victims are never responsible for the crimes committed against them. No one deserves to be a victim of a crime, no matter what they were wearing or where they were. If we want to end violence, we need to start by holding perpetrators accountable for their actions and stop victim blaming. Doing so will create a safer world for everyone.