Let’s Shift the Blame Away From Victims – PSA 11/01/2017

Why We Should Stop Asking Why Didn’t She Leave?

Oftentimes, when we read about domestic abuse in the media, we seem to be reading more so about the victims. “Why didn’t she leave?” seems to be the golden rule in reporting about abuse. It really is a question we need to stop asking. Why not ask “why he continues to abuse her?” or even more important “how can I help?”

Let’s Shift the Blame Away From Victims:

Perhaps we don’t even have to change the question all together, we just need it to shift its focus. Perhaps the question really should be “why couldn’t she leave?”

It is crucial that we shift blame away from victims to avoid revictimizing. They have been blamed by their abusers enough. This is the “big lie” that abusers tell their victims to keep them in place. Because by telling the victim they are to blame for their situation, they feel it is up to them to “Fix”’ the situation. I know I keep hammering on about this, but nothing about abuse has anything to do with the target. It is ALL about the abuser. Abuse is not losing your patience, it is structurally and consistently destroying someone. That is something the abuser chooses to do, the target does not have a say in that.

The question really is not “why didn’t she leave?” because that makes her responsible for the abuse, it implies she makes herself available to abuse. When we begin asking “why couldn’t she leave?” instead we exam the circumstances under which the abuse was allowed and able to continue.

Why Are We Only Asking About Her?

There seems to be a very persistent gender-stereotype that targets of abuse are always women and perpetrators are always men. Looking at the statistics though, that is a very distorted idea. Academic Surveys overwhelmingly show that men are victims as frequently or more frequently than woman. 

It really would help tremendously if we can start asking why HE was unable to leave HER, at least half of the time!

Why Are We Even Questioning This?

Why are we so busy asking victims to justify their stories and decisions anyway? The most important question by far is:” How can I help?” followed closely by “How can we prevent this from happening so much?”

Domestic Violence happens all around the world. Yet, we still feel uncomfortable talking about it.

As long as we keep asking “Why didn’t she leave?” nothing is going to change!

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