Sadly, victim-blaming is a huge part of every survivors narrative. Questions are asked of her and her behaviour and demeanour that are never asked of a victim of any other type of crime. Questions like:
‘What were you wearing?’
‘How much had you had to drink?’
‘Why were you there on your own?’
‘Did you lead him on?’
‘What did you expect?’
‘Boys will be boys.’
‘Why didn’t you just tell him to stop?’
‘Why didn’t you just fight him off?’
A woman’s previous sexual experience and the fact that men can’t really help themselves will be discussed in certain quarters. This puts the onus on women to accept responsibility for, not just their own behaviour, but that of men as well.
The bottom line is that victims of rape and sexual assault are blamed for what happened to them. As a result, a lot of victims blame themselves. This sort of victim-blaming is used particularly around young children to ensure that they stay quiet and don’t report the abuse because they are told that society, power, people in charge will not believe them – or will blame them for what happened to them.
Should a victim have the temerity, the audacity, and the courage to even attempt to seek some form of justice (there’s that word again!), they will find that those who take the side of their abusers will blame and bully the victim. For many (such as the members of my own immediate family), this helps them to avoid dealing with their own culpability, shame, and guilt around their own abuse of the victim. Or the fact that they allowed the abuse to continue by refusing to do anything to help the victim. Far, far, easier to blame the victim than to look in the mirror and take responsibility for how they made matters worse (or, at the very least, refused to make them better) for the victim.