And another thing about victim blaming

Here's something I've thought a lot about over the years of working with sexual assault and it's something that rarely gets brought out into the light. It's quite apparent to me that there's one important reason why we blame victims - it's so that we can find some way to make ourselves feel more secure that it's not going to happen to us. When we hear about someone being assaulted, it's fucking scary and often the first thing we want to do is find some way to make ourselves feel better. I really think that's why when we hear these horrifying reports of the women who have been raped and murdered and left in farmers' fields, the first thing we hear about the victim is that she was a prostitute. You can almost hear people breathe a collective sigh of relief. "Oh, thank god. I don't have to worry. That kind of thing won't happen to me - only to prostitutes". I know that's harsh to say but I also know it's true. It's like the media is trying to make all the 'good' people out there feel safe. Yes, there was this awful awful attack on a woman and the person who did it is still running around free but don't worry too much because it's only happening to prostitutes. It's the same thing with other types of assaults - why do you hear so much about where the victim was, whether she was alone or not, whether she knew the person? It's partly because we are looking for those clues that will tell us that the victim has some sort of culpability in it - she did something that put her in that position. That means that if I don't put myself in that position, that won't happen to me.

I understand why we do this. It's basic human nature to try to find some way to control something that feels out of control - even if that control is an illusion. But what it does is it blames victims. It causes us to concoct all of these crazy prevention tips in an effort to make ourselves feel safe. But it backfires because it leaves victims thinking that they should have some control over what happened to them and therefore should have been able to prevent it. And it de-humanizes the people who are victims. Why does it matter that a woman who was murdered was a sex trade worker? Why does it matter at all? What matters is that a woman was brutally attacked and murdered and that there are murderes running around free. The fact that the victim was a sex trade worker has little bearing on what the public needs to know about this. She did not ask to be attacked and murdered and the crime should not be dismissed as less important because of what she was doing at the time.

The scary and pathetic truth is that violence happens in our society and we cannot protect ourselves from it. The only way to stop it is to bring the people who do it to justice and punish them adequately. The only way to stop it is to make it unacceptable.

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