Victim blaming is a practice that is harming not just victims but our society as a whole. Part of the problem is that many people do this automatically, and it has become so prevalent. In order for this to change, we are going to have to be intentional about helping people see victims and perpetrators differently.
Here are some of the ways we can change the culture around victim blaming:
- Validating the victim’s experience – Many victims report that one of the worst parts of reporting a crime is not being believed. This is also one of the main reasons that victims do not report what happened to them. This is incredibly isolating and invalidating. Believing and validating victims is an important part of the healing process.
- Holding perpetrators responsible – When the victim of an unjust or illegal act is held responsible for what happened to them, the perpetrator does not have to take responsibility for their choices. This also sends the message that assault is not a serious crime.
- Stop the rape jokes – When people make jokes about rape, they are minimizing the impact that rape has on victims. It also normalizes victim-blaming.
- Education – Until now, only women are being educated on how to avoid assault. Women are told to be careful about what they wear, how much they drink, etc. This sends the message that women can control whether they are taken advantage of. Men need to be educated about assault as well. Rape culture, particularly on college campuses, has become rampant. We need to be talking to men about respecting others and receiving consent.
- Spread the importance of consent – Checking for consent is such an imperative part of preventing sexual assault. It is important to recognize that there are situations where consent is not possible. Assuming that because someone is not fighting back or saying no means there is consent feeds directly into victim blaming.
Written By: Elizabeth Kraich, LAPC