Sexual violence has many long-term effects. In United States, RAINN states 94% of women who have been sexually assaulted experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the assault and 30% reported symptoms nine months after the assault. 33% of women who have been assaulted also contemplate suicide. We believe the numbers in country like Ethiopia is a lot more higher.
But with many sexual assault cases comes the horrifying trend of victim blaming, as if the victims didn’t have to go through enough. When women do come forward with their assault stories, they’re often bombarded with questions about what they were wearing, how much they were drinking that night, why they didn’t yell for help and why they put themselves in the position to be harmed.
Asking these kinds of questions and comments reinforces the idea victims are to blame when they are attacked. Below are 6 reasons why you should STOP victim blaming now.
Blaming silences victims: When victims are blamed, they are less likely to seek help in recovering from a traumatic experience, and they are less likely to report the experience to authorities. Abuse, assault and other forms of violence are always the perpetrators fault. A victim does not bring it on themselves.
Victim blaming decriminalizes assault: When we blame the victim, we are essentially saying that assault isn’t that bad. Time and time again, people committing these types of crimes are either leniently sentenced or not charged at all, and blaming the victim in any capacity conveys to the survivor that what has happened to them is normal. That it isn’t worth being taken seriously.words have an impact
Victim blaming releases responsibility from the perpetrator: We create norms that protect the perpetrator when we victim-blame. Instead of saying it is the criminal’s fault alone, what we are essentially saying is that the victim deserved what happened to them. We are insinuating that they provoked their attacker in some way, and that if the victim had done something differently they could’ve avoided it.
Victim blaming brings shame: When we victim blame, even the victims themselves may embrace the idea that it is their fault. Victums feel a sense of shame about what happened to them, without their consent.
Victim blaming enables for more horrible incidents to happen: Victims who have been blamed avoid reporting or speaking about it to avoid secondary victimization. If horrible things aren’t reported, horrible things aren’t going to stop happening. We all need to understand there are horrible things happening in our community and if we don't report them or talk about them, the problem will get bigger.
Victim blaming prolong the healing process: When we victim blame, victims feel ashamed and tend to blame themselves. Shame and self-blame interferes with healing from the effects of traumatic events.
As a society, we will never truly heal until we realize that we must move beyond our instinctive need to “blame the victim” and address the true nature of the trauma that sexual harassment and assault inflicts on all of us. There is never a circumstance where a sexual assault is the victim’s fault, be they male or female.