The Psychological Damage of Victim Blaming

The Psychological Damage of Victim Blaming

I used to get into arguments a lot on my Facebook page that ranged from a myriad of topics, until I finally got rid of these people. The first person I got rid of was one who believed victims of sexual assault should take some responsibility for what happened to them. He said they (primarily women) should take particular care in how they dress, act, where they go, how they interact with men, and so on and so forth. This kind of thinking is damaging because it says men are uncontrollable monsters. This kind of thinking is also damaging because it suggests women shouldn’t have interactions with men period–and that is how I took it. If I even say hello to a guy and decide to interact with him and I am wearing a cute outfit and he decides to take me out and decides to assault me after the date, I suppose I was asking for it because I dared give someone a chance at being a possible partner in my life. (I am engaged, by the way.) 

It isn’t just the court systems that victim blame. It can be people you love and trust who will blame you, even though they will admit that your assailant was wrong for what they did. However, they still blame you because they think you were leading your assailant on in some way, while trying to reconcile within themselves why it happened and also, funny enough, wanting you to not act that way anymore so that doesn’t happen again. They consider it a lesson learned, when it isn’t a lesson that never should have been learned from the start, no matter what you were doing. I don’t care if you were sending nude pictures to your assailant. Once your assailant lays their hands on you and you say no and they won’t stop, you are the victim, no matter what you did before.

Your assailant is often a person you trust, someone you think you feel safe around, someone who is your friend or someone who you are flirting with or someone who may even be your significant other. Heck, your assailant could be someone cheating on their partner, even though you are in no way encouraging the infidelity but are trying to discourage it in your own way; however, you are too afraid to be direct because of the assailant’s history. Someone may be telling you not to tell because of that history of this person while warning you to keep away from your assailant–who won’t stay away, even if you say no. And even if you never say no, silence does not mean ‘yes.’ You may be too scared to say ‘no.’

Victim blaming is arguably just as damaging as the assault itself. While you can tell yourself it wasn’t your fault, those who blame you will shoot darts at everything you did that led up to the assault so that way you are constantly thinking about what exactly happened during the assault and what you could have done. You can have flashbacks, panic attacks, crying spells, and even have suicidal thoughts and plans. If there was already insurmountable stress in your life, like a mental illness episode you’re going through, things are going to be quadrupled in how worse everything is for you. The assault is going to make you more depressed, anxious, and suicidal. The victim blaming is going to intensify your illness to the point where you’re screaming and crying and telling others you want to kill yourself–and they don’t seem to want to take it seriously because they don’t understand. Some will try to protect you, but you know those people can’t always be around to keep you safe from yourself. Sometimes you’re stuck in silence. Oftentimes you have to pretend nothing happened. Others will tell you they hate victim mentalities, but that is another way to blame the victim because there is no set time period in which you should be over what happened to you. The important thing is that you try to let yourself heal from the incident. Yet, if you’re dealing with a mental illness, that’s hard. Really hard. Your mental illness is already deluding you from the beginning, and some people develop mental illnesses after the incident.

Others tell you that you should have fought and should have been angry, but people react to assaults in so many different ways, especially if it’s a person they forgive time and time again and still continue to like. These are the kinds of assaults that don’t hit you until even after a day or two when it happened. Then you realize what happened, it hits you all at once, and you are so overwhelmed that you start having flashbacks as to what occurred. Bits and pieces of your memory are missing. Only the worst things are ingrained in your memory. You’re pretty sure a few other things happened while you were trying to avoid the person trying to force themselves on you, but you can’t remember those things.

Also, sexual assault doesn’t have to be rape or leave marks. Sexual assault is simply someone forcing themselves upon you without your consent, thinking that you wanted it and in fact enjoyed it. Sometimes these victims pretend they don’t care–but they’re still scared. Other times they’ll fight. Yet, each victim will react differently depending on the circumstances and history of the assailant they’re dealing with. Regardless of whether it was rape or there was no violence, assault is assault and is still damaging. Your body was being invaded. You were being manipulated the entire time that led up to the assault. And you were scared.

There are so many stories about victim blaming that have been written already, but I thought I would finally contribute to the discussion since my blog is one that I have made a point to touch upon topics such as this.

Amber Skye Forbes,  Author of When Stars Die, a YA Paranormal 




Misogyny and the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ Mentality

Misogyny and the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ Mentality

I normally don’t post about politics or whatever you want to consider this, but when I see people even remotely supporting the ‘old boys club’ mentality, especially in the military, I can’t help but to have an opinion. You can find the article I’m referring to here.

Am I even allowed to have an opinion on this anyway because I’m not in the military, will never be in the military, and don’t want to be in the military? Or the marines? Or the whatever? I simply don’t have the mental strength to put up with what they put up with. I get tired of people telling me that if I want to tour Europe, I should join the military. I’d rather be homeless, honestly. I know what being in the military would do to me. In any case…

The gist of the article is that the Marine Corps wants to make certain sites off-limits due to the harassing nature of the pages toward females. I want to first off state that I don’t think pages should be off-limits to them period. You might as well make the internet off-limits to them because there is potential for harassment everywhere. I’m not saying it’s right because it really isn’t.

I don’t find degradation funny anymore. I used to because it was just a joke, but when the degradation jokes are constantly against women and they’re not even cleverly done or done tongue-in-cheek, you start to realize there is still a culture of misogyny present that thinks it’s okay because ‘we really don’t mean it.’ I don’t exactly see the same being done toward men, save the rare cases from hardcore, proudly-proclaimed misandrists–which I don’t find okay at all. But when it’s the norm to make disparaging jokes about women or to say it’s a shame Angelina Jolie removed her breasts because she had a ‘nice pair of tits’ and not because she had a high chance of breast cancer, then there is still a problem with misogyny, and whether or not our culture means to be misogynistic does not matter. I want to scream at ‘get back to the kitchen’ jokes. How the heck do people even think that’s funny, even as a joke? It’s so tiring as a joke. Not only that, but it’s completely demeaning to women. I see it in gaming culture too.

I’m also not sure how I feel about the woman mentioned in this article writing a letter about what she found online and how not only does it treat women like crap but it misrepresents the Marines. I feel like the internet should be kept separate from her job because there are problems enough of those in professional vocations posting party picks, getting caught in those party picks, and getting fired. I don’t feel like our jobs should define us as people, that our persons should be separate from our jobs. Even the military. We’re all human, after all.

At the same time, the internet IS misrepresenting the Marines and the military or whatever. In spite of all the good our military has done, the internet isn’t exactly shedding a favorable light upon the culture and what it’s about. As an outsider, this is my idea of military culture just from the internet alone: constant boozing, drugs, mistreatment of females, and partying. I can’t imagine that’s all there is to the culture, but the internet would have you think otherwise.

The ‘old boys’ club’ mentality is not okay. It is not okay to shrug off male behavior as ‘boys will be boys.’ This is the same concept that supports victim blaming, sexual harassment, and all sorts of problems women still deal with. It’s the same concept that puts the responsibility on women, when women shouldn’t have to live their lives in fear of being harassed or raped. Men are more likely to be murdered than women are to be raped, but we don’t teach boys how to prevent murder, yet we teach women how to prevent rape. Just what? Both sexes can be raped and murdered.

It’s troubling when it’s over the internet and when it’s just captions taken out of context. How do you deal with that? Do you shrug it off as ‘they don’t mean it. It’s just a joke to them’? Or do you actually do something about it so there is no misrepresentation going on? But then that’s policing the internet. But then it’s also still sexual harassment, especially if a woman voices her concern and no one is reasonable about sating it. She could get off that site, but then misogyny is still prevalent, whether or not she’s present.

It’s a double-edged sword.