You may be victim blaming and not even know it. We’ve all done it, not realizing that we were blaming and shaming victims because our own heads couldn’t wrap around the stories or situations. Or we just simply denied it all as not true because we didn’t want to believe that someone we thought highly of could be capable of causing harm to others. In fact, blaming and shaming victims makes it easier for *us* to process the situation because it’s easier. We then do not have to step in to be brave for the victim. It gets us off the hook.
My personal story as the victim has been one of love, support, inspiration, and….a whole lot of blame.
Phrases like, “Well, that’s only your side of the story.” (which questions my character and capability to speak honestly) and “Well, you did travel a lot” (evidence taken via FB snapshots, perhaps, and not taken from daily life), and “Well, that’s not *really* abuse or abandonment or cruelty.” (again, questions the truth and reality of actions placed upon me), Or my ever favorite, “Why didn’t you leave years ago?”
Please know that this type of narrative is extremely harmful to the victim. It isolates them and often stops them from getting help, seeking assistance, reaching out, or even believing that the harm even happened. Through, THEY are the ones living the story day in and day out. THEY are the ones picking up the broken pieces of their lives and the lives of the network of other souls wrecked by the same mistreatment. THEY are in the trenches. The spectators with pieced together stories or gossip or lack of information or denial are not.
I encourage you to be brave and get into the trenches with victims. Hear their stories. See how their days really are by being there with them. Learn. Educate. Make a productive change. But, please don’t only watch from afar, then judge, blame, accuse, or shame those victimized because it’s too much for YOU to process. Take the time to process it for the victims.