Throughout my work as an advocate and writer about abuse and trauma, it has become very clear and very concerning to me, as to the depths of victim shaming and victim blaming I see throughout society.
Just the simple and widely used phrase ‘don’t be a victim’ – is victim shaming and those with insight will understand why.
“There is no more shame in being a victim of abuse,
as there is a victim of any other crime.”
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
I have become an ‘anti-victim shaming warrior’ as a result of my life experiences, research and insight and I know the depths of harm it causes and how toxic it is. My aim is always to support survivors and to help them work out why different forms of abuse cause harm, with victim shaming being one of them.
Some will argue that victim shaming is not always meant with malice and I agree – but that doesn’t make it okay, or any less harmful and education is required to reduce it and support the victims/survivors.
This is a list of some of the types of victim shaming, victim blaming, shame shifting and psychological abuse I see as a result.
When Perpetrators Of The Abuse Are Family
There is a lot of shaming of abuse survivors, where the perpetrator is a family member, or collective dysfunctional/abusive family. Sayings like “but they’re family”, “she’s your mother, she did the best she could” and suggestions that family are exempt from being accountable for the abuse, are all ways survivors of abuse face being shamed for their needed emotions about being abused by family, and shamed for wanting healthy and needed boundaries from abusive family.
No-one has to tolerate ongoing abuse and harm – just because it’s from family members.
Survivors have a right to a full range of emotions about abusive family and every right to have safe boundaries to stop ongoing abuse.
“The amount of distance required away from
abusive family, is directly ‘relative’
to amount of harm they are choosing to
inflict and their unwillingness to stop”
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
About Forgiving Abusers
This is common one I see throughout society, and within the abuse survivor community. Society has been so brainwashed by religious and spiritual abuse and the belief that you must forgive your abuser in order to heal and in order to be a ‘good person’. Neither of these are correct. A survivor of abuse can make a personal choice about forgiveness, but it is not okay to project that onto others. Survivors can heal and move on from the abuse, without forgiving the abuser. Some survivors of abuse find it empowering to forgive and some find it empowering not to. It is not an act of aggression to close the door to the past abuse and not look back.
Some survivors of abuse decide after considerable contemplation and soul searching, that it is simply not their responsibility or burden to forgive an unrepentant and unremorseful abuser. That is an educated and insightful decision. Not forgiving does not mean you hold onto anger. It does not mean you are a ‘bad/unkind person’. And it certainly is not weakness, or an act of spite or a character flaw. I see considerable shaming about this issue – even from other survivors. I also see how forced forgiveness, premature forgiveness and forgiving non-remorseful abusers, can actually be damaging to the survivor’s healing and can also allow abuse to continue.
I am thankful to see mental health professionals taking a stand on this and expressing their concern about the shaming issue of forgiveness.
For more info see:
Not Being ‘Compassionate Enough’ For Their Abusers
Often people want to jump straight to assuming an abuser must have reasons why they became abusive and this somehow leads to being an ‘excuse’. Yes, there are reasons that may have led to someone becoming an abusive person, but they are not excuses. Abuse is a choice and that needs to be very clearly understood. Someone’s trauma and abuse history, is not an excuse to abuse someone. Many survivors of abuse and trauma do not go on to become abusive themselves, and this is a choice anyone can make.
In suggesting that an abuse survivor is not ‘compassionate enough’ about the abuser’s possible reasons for being abusive, this is inappropriate and victim shaming. An abuse survivor does not ‘have’ to feel compassion for someone who caused terrible pain and suffering and to say otherwise, is psychological abuse.
When Abuse Victims React Back To The Abuser
This is a very clear issue I see occurring, where after ongoing and relentless abuse – the victim reacts backs to the perpetrator e.g. in anger, calls the abuser names, even hitting them back. This is not abuse – when it is a reaction to ongoing abuse and provocation. But, these actions are wrongly deemed by some to be abuse.
It is very unreasonable to assume a victim of ongoing abuse, should have perfect reactions and always remain calm. It is victim shaming to suggest that reactions that are out of the normal character for that victim’s behaviour, and only occurred due to ongoing and relentless abuse, are wrong. Even the most patient, loving, kind, empathic people can be pushed to react in ways they would never normally behave, under extreme provocation and after enduring ongoing abuse.
It’s also further psychological abuse when the abuser then claims to be ‘the victim’, due to these reactions to the abuse inflicted. This occurs very often with abusers and is part of their ongoing manipulation and gaslighting abuse.
It is very normal to be angry at being abused. It is healthy to feel anger at the injustices suffered and it is shows the victim loves themselves enough to be upset at the mistreatment and harm they have endured.
For more info see:
Not Leaving An Abusive Relationship ‘Soon Enough’
There are many very valid reasons why abuse victims don’t leave abusive relationships quickly. To suggest the abuse is their ‘own fault’ because they didn’t leave, is victim shaming and abusive. To suggest they are ‘asking for it’ if they stay or go back, is victim blaming and abusive.
The focus should not be “why didn’t he/she leave?” – it should be “why didn’t the perpetrator stop abusing?”.
For further info see:
Police, Legal & Court System
There is significant victim shaming occurring within police handling abuse. sexual abuse and domestic violence incorrectly, the courts, legal system, family court, callous lawyers – all enabling and perpetrating victim blaming and victim shaming.
This is becoming more widely known, particularly with social media encouraging education and exposing this through e.g. #metoo movement.
In society in general and in particular within police and court/legal proceedings – there is a highly victim blaming mentality and this is being exposed more and more e.g. the very misogynistic attitudes about ‘what the victim was wearing, doing, drinking’ etc – as a way to blame the victim for their own sexual abuse and assault. Domestic violence victims are blamed for the abuse they endure and this abuse is not taken seriously enough in regard to issues regarding the children – who also do not have their safety and well-being taken seriously enough, in regard to being protected from an abusive parent.
Police, judges, lawyers, those connected to these legal systems, must be far more educated about abuse, the types of perpetrators of abuse and how a victim is NEVER to blame for an abuser’s choices to abuse in any form. To suggest it is, is victim blaming and victim shaming and psychological abuse.
For more info see:
Victim Shaming By Mental Health Professionals
Making excuses for abusers is one. There are some very empathetic and insightful mental health professionals, who don’t make excuses for abusers. There are, however, some who do and in doing this – they cause a lot of harm to the survivors.
There are various reasons this occurs – one being that some mental health professionals don’t have sufficient empathy to understand how offering an ‘excuse’ for the abuser – hurts the victim. Another being that some mental health professionals are very ‘clinical’ in their thinking and are unable to see outside of their ‘professional clinical views’ about abusers, to consider how this feels to the victim. Again, this is a lack of empathy. When mental health professionals fail to have sufficient empathy, they cause considerable harm to the survivors.
There’s also a lot of pathologizing of the coping methods victims use, such as buzzwords and terms like ‘co-dependency’ and ‘trauma bonding’. These are often used by mental health professionals and they do overgeneralise and pathologize normal and adaptive ways of coping with ongoing abuse. They can tend to feel ‘victim shaming’ – in the suggestion that there was something ‘wrong’ with the victim in doing these. When in fact, they often are about surviving and the survivor keeping themselves safe, in the best way they knew how.
In my extensive work on social media with survivors of abuse, I repeatedly see an all too common issue of mental health professionals focussing on pushing forgiveness, blaming the victim for their abuse, suggesting their reactions to be being abused, are ‘wrong’, trying to police the emotions, words and labels survivors have every right to feel and use and suggesting they are choosing to be victims. This is all victim shaming and not acceptable.
Victims Are ‘Stupid’ For Being Conned & Abused
I see this attitude throughout society and I see it sadly even within the abuse survivor community – where survivors often voice they feel ‘stupid’. Survivors of highly manipulative and exploitative abusers are not ‘stupid’. Highly educated and professional people are manipulated and exploited every day. Even highly trained mental health professionals – admit to being duped and conned by narcissistic, sociopathic and psychopathic abusers. Dr Robert Hare – a world leading expert in psychopaths – admits to being conned by them.
Being a trusting, caring, normal person, who is conned and duped by master manipulators, is not being stupid or weak.
The abuse is a reflection of the abuser, not of the victim. We must accept this.
In suggesting the victim was stupid, or weak, we are blaming and shaming the victim and that is further psychological abuse.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways victims are shamed about abuse they endure, just some of the main ones I see occurring.
I have written another blog postabout victim shaming- read @
For more insight, you can follow my Facebook account @ https://www.facebook.com/LillyHopeLucario – where I do frequently write about victim shaming, as well as other ways I educate and support survivors.
I have a popular Facebook page for survivors of abuse, and those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder @ https://www.facebook.com/HealingFromComplexTraumaAndPTSDAndCPTSD/
I also have a Website – that is highly recommended by many mental health professionals and clinicians, at www.healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.com/
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
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