In 2016 I frequently wrote articles for the established human rights website/blog https://www.antoinespeaks.co.uk/ touching on matters such as alcohol addiction, domestic violence and mental health. I have recently written another article about the somewhat taboo subject of victim blaming/shaming. I could have written more in depth on the matter, but would have needed far more space on the website for that! I have copied and pasted below, the piece I wrote, and may well create a longer, more in depth article soon, or even a video on the subject. Antione’s website is definitely worth taking a mosey at, and even though the topic in question is certainly very serious, I have tried to inject a little “dark” humour, also!
As many know, I have had the misfortune to have suffered bouts of prolonged domestic abuse since 2013 (Thankfully permanently cutting off all perpetrators and toxic individuals upon my house move to London late 2019). I would say I have been quite lucky in terms of experiencing full on victim blaming/shaming, as in most people (including the national media) have been generally “on my side” so to speak, and saw the reality of what was happening. I have however, been on the receiving end of poorly constructed, unhinged and rather disturbing comments, mainly from random people online that I have never met, but a couple from people I have known personally. The comments online were made by individuals who are definitely a few hairs short of a hippy’s beard, and consisted of scripture so profound, they would have Shakesphere shaking in his grave. Examples included, “No wonder he beat her up, she’s ugly as f*ck”, and other nuggets of groundbreaking literature, that have no doubt been plucked straight from the Oxford University English Studies curriculum, such as “Shut up stupid bitch, u brought it on urself. Dumb slag”. Such brain. Many wisdom. Much proud parents.
On a serious note, I often see victims of any traumatic event- not just of domestic abuse- being treated as though they somehow encouraged or provoked the suffering the endured, and it truly is disturbing. If I had a pound for every time I have been asked, “Why didn’t you just leave?” or told “I would never have put up with that”, thankfully, it wouldn’t be enough to buy a London mansion, but I could still live comfortably in a spacious apartment in Surrey. In less complicated terms, I haven’t been questioned an obscene amount of times, but still enough times for me to start doubting as to whether I really was fully a victim after all, and that is worrying.
I have read reports of people having their houses burgled/people being robbed in the street etc, and more often than not, there will be public comments viewable, that state or imply that the victim should have known better than to keep expensive items in their homes/carry items of value with them. I have even seen remarks claiming that victims of these events are “just asking for it”! I have witnessed these harmful and terrifying comments being applied to any traumatic event, from racism, to sexual assault, to discrimination against sexuality/gender etc. I do not have enough words in this article to delve into each in detail, but we can’t deny it is happening more and more, to the extent society now has recognised phrases, such as “Victim Shaming”, that did not exist a short while ago (to my knowledge).
Speaking again from my own experiences, I have learnt that people often love to “judge” as such, as to when someone stops being a victim, and becomes part of the problem. I have unfortunately not long left another prolonged, abusive situation, and whilst I would say the vast majority of people I have actively interacted with over it, have been nothing short of fully supportive and sympathetic, there have been a few that have not. I have been told that:
*I should have “learnt” after my first abusive relationship
*People may think I am attention seeking
*I am an idiot for trusting another person with abusive traits
*By remaining in the situation, I was giving my abuser a “free reign” to do whatever they wanted to me and get away with it
*I must secretly enjoy being treated badly
*For more than one person to become so infuriated by me, I must have been the core problem, as else why would people completely unrelated to each other feel so strongly?
*Because I speak out and am open about my experiences, I am causing potential harm to the individuals I am accusing (Although nothing is preventing me, I never publicly write the names of the perpetrators).
*I shouldn’t receive Victim Support therapy, because I am “beyond help” and should sacrifice my place to “some poor person who genuinely needs it”. Yes, you read that correct.
I mean, the points go on and on, but I think you get a pretty good/grim idea from the above, as to the sort of ignorance, not just myself, but other victims of domestic abuse often have to endure. It is not exactly a game changing breakthrough in human science, to know that people who have been abused once, often find themselves falling back into repetitive behaviour, and/or similar scenarios. As I have previously stated, the above points are specifically from my own experiences, and i am in no way claiming to be more harmful or destructive as comments towards victims of other forms of trauma!
I of course believe everyone is entitled to their opinions about everything, and I don’t want to get into too deep a breakdown of points, as I am still very much trying to work through the aftermath of my own recent experiences, but I will end by simply saying: Please try not to judge others based on how you believe you would react and cope if you had been in their situation, and if you are unable to do this, then please refrain from vocalising those opinions to the person, as I can almost guarantee you, that 99% of the time, you will be causing more harm than help.