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: