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Combating Victim-Blaming Attitudes

Updated on November 20, 2017

When it comes to domestic violence, reasons are usually looked for to blame the victim. The question that tends to be asked is: "Why does she stay with him?" when the question really should be: "Why does he abuse her?"

Victim-blaming attitudes continue to perpetuate domestic violence, especially against women and children. It's why I've resolutely made it my mission to be a voice for a widely unheard population; one way I've done so is by delving into the topic with numerous well-intentioned, empathetic, and open-minded gentlemen I've had the pleasure of meeting in online chatrooms. I hope you will note, as I did, how fascinating it is to speak with so many giant intellectuals, as delineated in the following examples:

Nice Guy: We nice guys should avoid all you stupid bimbos who fall for all these criminals, gangbangers, and thugs. After all, it's all your faults for jumping into a tank filled with sharks, or opening a box that clearly reads "T.N.T" in big red letters.

Stupid Bimbo [Me]: But what if it isn't a shark tank but a beautiful, peaceful ocean with a glorious sunset and many people surfing, swimming, and having a good time, with no one knowing of how many murderous sharks are lurking beneath the water's surface? Or what if that box didn't look like a box of dynamite but a glittering, jewel-covered treasure chest? Abusers often operate in a similar fashion. They're very proficient at covering up who they are. They can fool anyone. Including you.

Nice Guy: How dare you judge me! I would never be stupid enough to date a known psychopath. Unlike you idiotic women, I can discern abusive mannerisms in anyone.

Bimbo: Sorry that abuse victims and survivors aren't perfect, but I'm happy to know that you are.

Nice Guy: It's not about being perfect, it's about taking responsibility for your own actions.

Bimbo: That's correct, and I hope you make it your responsibility to step up to the plate and call abusers out on their actions.

Nice Guy: I don't deny an abuser's responsibility for his actions, it's just that if you choose to date an abuser, you're partly to blame.

Bimbo: So if a woman goes alone into a hotel with a stranger, is she at fault if he chooses to rape her?

Nice Guy: What a horrible comparison! A woman in that situation didn't choose to date that rapist. If you choose to date a batterer, you bring all that abuse on yourself.

Bimbo: If you bothered to do your research, you would know that most rape victims are attacked by someone they know. But whether she knows him or she doesn't, he still has no right to abuse her in any way. So if she chooses to date him, he has every right to abuse her? Do I get to abuse anyone who decides to date me?

Nice Guy: She set herself up for it by dismissing all the red flags.

Bimbo: The red flags usually aren't as obvious as killing a pet and leaving it on your doorstep. Abusers are often charming and charismatic upfront. "I chose to date him because I knew he was going to abuse me." Does that even make any sense? Abuse is a choice.

Nice Guy: What's so charming and charismatic about abuse?

Bimbo: Abusers often don't show signs of being abusive for months or even years. Anyone can be abusive, including priests. If she had to call the police on him on the first date, there wouldn't be a second date. If we were all psychic, if we all had telepathic sensors, there wouldn't be a need for police departments or domestic violence shelters. Are people walking around wearing signs around their necks that read "Caution: I'm An Abuser"?

Nice Guy: But way too many of you stupid females still always go after all these obvious "bad boys." You know better than to date somebody who's trouble.

Bimbo: Relationships and personalities are often much more complicated than they appear on the surface. Women have a right to be attracted to whomever they want to be attracted to. What no one has a right to do is to be abusive under any circumstance. Do you think that any relationship or person is completely good or bad, or that anyone wants to be abused, or to be abusive? It's not all black and white. And many who enter into abusive relationships were abused as children; isn't it only natural that they would subconsciously choose what they're familiar with? Prolonged childhood abuse often sets one up for that.

Nice Guy: Suffering is not an excuse to choose an abuser.

Bimbo: No, if someone chooses to date you, it's not an excuse for you to use them as your personal little punching bag; again, love and attraction can be very blinding and many abusers often appear to have many redeeming qualities. Any abuse these women receive from these men seems secondary to the love they give them, especially if others like you are constantly kicking them when they're already down. Don't neglected flowers tend to turn to whatever very little sunlight is offered? Abused women probably feel these guys are the only ones who will accept them and the abusers in turn often feel they are the only women who will accept them. When you tell survivors they're bad people, you only give them additional reasons to think they don't deserve better.

Nice Guy: I know women in abusive relationships who are strong and smart enough to take a stand and leave at the first sign of trouble. I find them far more admirable than those who choose to stay. I have no sympathy for the weak.

Bimbo: I congratulate and encourage anyone who is able to leave, however I urge you to consider extenuating circumstances that also prevent some from leaving. There are many dynamics to abuse. Maybe the women you know have resources others don't. Many victims don't have job skills, housing or might be financially dependent on their batterers or even have children with them or may have no social supports other than them; abusers often isolate and control their victims to the point that they have no one else or at least feel they don't. Call her weak if that gives you self-esteem, but the reality is, love doesn't have an on-and-off switch. Just because some people are able to cope it doesn't always mean everyone else is or that life can't possibly be harder for anyone else.

Nice Guy: If she has children with him that makes her even more despicable, as far as I'm concerned. If anyone puts their hands on my child, I don't care how much in love I'm in with them, I'd leave in a heartbeat. She's a terrible mother for not protecting them.

Bimbo: Well, I'm certainly glad that you're able to take her weakest point, her child, and to use that against her to make her feel bad so that you can walk away feeling like the bigger person. Very noble and courageous of you. By the way, why do you assume she isn't protecting them? Or that there's only so much she can control? When she attempts to leave, her partner often literally blocks doorways or other exits or hides all her money, driver's license, or car keys, or threatens to hurt her or any pets or even to hurt the children. Or he even just physically restrains her or beat her even further. Sometimes she must stay in order to protect them.

Nice Guy: There's never an excuse. She can leave when he's asleep or there's always an abuse center, her parents or other relatives, or her friends, or a domestic violence shelter..and oh..have you ever heard of the police?

Bimbo: What happens to her if he wakes up? And what if she has no parents, family or friends? Or if the friends or family she has blames her for what she's going through or are abusive to her and the children too? Or even if she did have friends or relatives who cared for her, what if they have no room in their own housing for her? Or suppose her batterer tracks her down and kills her for leaving, which often happens, as indicated by statistics? Or consider extreme cases in which she is physically incapacitated because he's broken all her arms and legs, or is pointing a gun at her face? Or even if she is able, the police harass and ridicule and blame her for her own abuse, as they often do. Or even arrest her along with her batterer, or instead of the batterer, as they are also famous for. And some d.v. shelters are understaffed and abusive as well, or sometimes also out of space, or at least claim to be. So where do you suggest she stay? On the street? Where she could then be attacked and possibly killed? Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. If she senses society blames her for her own abuse, no wonder she isn't safe turning to you for help.

Nice Guy: You're making all these excuses because the truth hurts and you just can't handle it.

Bimbo: I have my own take on what the truth is. If you feel the need to shove your versions of truth in my face like that, am I truly the one who can't handle it? If this seriously is the extent to where you're reluctant to acknowledge that victims are not at fault for the abuse their partners give them, how are you not a potential batterer yourself? If you're victim-blaming and completely unwilling to open up your mind to learning about the incredibly complicated dynamics of domestic violence, don't you think you're giving away clues about who you really are? The victim is not the one who is creating all this...what part of "Abuse is a choice, there's no excuse for it" don't you understand?

Nice Guy: I do understand, Bimbo. I just don't want to date women with children from abusive relationships. Don't try to burden me with all their baggage.

Bimbo: Well, it looks like you'll always miss out on getting to know how wonderful many of these women are but I thank you for letting them know upfront what type of person you are.

Nice Guy: You're just mad because some people don't want trash like you...that said, you're now just all damaged goods with bastard kids, now that he used you up and left you all alone. Don't expect a man as educated, even-keeled, good-looking, caring and awesome as myself to ever want any of you.

Bimbo: You're entitled to your opinion and I'm sorry that you feel that way, but I don't.

While I have no doubt that all these utter sweethearts mean well, and while I can easily envision them all as being these insanely hot, gorgeous, hunky, heart-melting, breath-taking heartthrobs who constantly have scores of beautiful, intelligent women just melting all over them, I still want to reaffirm to all abuse survivors that you are not at fault for the abuse you have received from your partners. To anyone who tells you otherwise, shame on them.


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