On last month’s episode of ABC TV’s ‘The Weekly’, host Charlie Pickering spoke out about the issue of victim blaming. He made a strong point by stating “the way we talk and think about rape makes women responsible for preventing it.”
Comparing a sexual assault victim to a convenience store that had just been robbed he stated “it was open all night and had its goodies on display” therefore it was ‘asking for it’. I thought that sounded stupid as of course that’s something we would never say. But those three words ‘asking for it’ is something society says to many sexual assault victims.
In the media there are constant claims about victim’s responsibility in assault cases and that somehow they are to blame when they are assaulted. They don’t stand up for themselves, they wear the wrong clothes, they walk in the wrong places and to finish they play the victim.
You would hope this was only the view of the minority however according to a recent Australian survey which results left me shocked, 1 in 5 Australians believe women are partly responsible for their own rape if she has been drinking and 1 in 6 believe that when a woman says no she actually means yes.
Victim blaming attitudes are something that place victims in more danger and it is important to know when it occurs, how it occurs and how to prevent it.
When does it happen? Generally the closer the relationship between the victim and perpetrator, the more likely victim blaming occurs. Therefore it happens often in close relationships such as married couples or partners.
Why is it dangerous? Victim blaming attitudes make it harder for victims to come forward and report the assault. It is never the victims fault, it is the perpetrators choice. With these attitudes, society is allowing the perpetrator to continue sexual assault and violence whilst avoiding liability for these actions.
Why does it happen? By accusing the victim, others are distancing themselves from an unpleasant occurrence making them out to be different to them and therefore creating a false sense of safety with the attitude it could never happen to them.
What form is it in? General victim blaming statements include “she was drunk” “she provoked him” or “she shouldn’t be with him”.
What can be done? We need to change the question from “why does the victim stay?” to “why does the perpetrator abuse?” through challenging typical victim blaming statements and the excuses of abusers.
We need to confront the issue of victim blaming and stop spreading victim blaming attitudes in the media therefore victims will gain the support they need.