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Feminism, Personal Accounts, Socially Unacceptable, Violence Against Women

Victim Blaming as Empowerment?

tumblr_lwvsvmFVlk1r1sqyco1_500Since becoming part of the WordPress community, I have been fortunate enough to come across amazing blogs, written by amazing people who have enhanced my knowledge and greatly inspired me. However, I have also come across blogs that I strongly disagree with and only anger me yet they still inspire me as they are the reason I started this blog: to talk about shit that pisses me off! And then there is the gray area, a post that surprises you because it seems to contradict the purpose of the blog at hand. At this point come the complications.

In the latest post of Prego and the Loon (http://pregoandtheloon.wordpress.com/), a blog written by a survivor of domestic violence, the author writes about “The top 10 Reasons People Stay in Abusive Relationships” (http://pregoandtheloon.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/top-10-reasons-people-stay-in-an-abusive-relationship/) which I instantly decided to read as I am very involved in the movement against interpersonal violence in particular violence against women. However, I was disappointed and a little worried to see the reasons posted, especially the number 1 reason, which was “Self Esteem”. It troubled me because of what was stated:

Low self-esteem… I presented low self esteem as number one because your fate begins with yourself and how you choose to see yourself. The choices you make, the character you display, and the the path you walk along are all a reflection of how you feel about yourself and what you think you deserve in life. If you want to be happy then take it because it’s yours to have. If you want a loving relationship then start by loving yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Anything you dream of or desire is all within arms reach. Create the reality you deserve!

This can seem as very inspirational and empowering but I see quite the opposite. When discussing domestic violence, victim blaming seems to be at the forefront of all conversation and one of the main points made by those who blame the victim is “Why don’t you just leave?” This is exactly what I see in this paragraph, stating that the victim or survivor is in control and if they would only choose to be happy, they would be able to leave the relationship. I’m sorry but to me, this is victim blaming 101! While I do believe that abusers can lower the self esteem of the victim and that is a technique used to keep the victim, I think it only adds to the true difficulty of being able to walk away and it is not that simple. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is empowering to think one can be happy if they want to and they are in control of their life but I do not believe that this should be used against the victim or survivor to imply they could leave if they really wanted to (they must like the abuse if they don’t leave right?). It is this rhetoric that puts the spotlight of blame on the victim instead of the person who truly deserves it: the abuser! I wonder if people forget about the perpetrator, the person who commits the violence and the only person who deserves to be held responsible.

I communicated my viewpoints to the author and she was very receptive and had an open mind, which is all I was after, to at least have someone re-think their perspective and see the other side of it.

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My big issue came (and always seems to) from other readers who defended this stance, a stance  that even if subtly encouraged the already victim-blaming society we all inhabit. In this case, however, it was not just encouraging this behavior but even denying its existence.

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I’m sorry but unless one lives on the moon or with Republicans, they cannot deny what occurs to all victims and survivors of interpersonal violence especially in regards to sexual assault and domestic violence. It is the blindness that prevents progress and the negation of it that is anything but empowering. No one is asking to “reason” with perpetrators just the simple notion of holding them accountable and there is no need to “reason” with victims or survivors, they have done nothing wrong. If one is preaching choices, how about remembering that the victim will leave when they are ready not when others are ready for them to leave. How about truly empowering them  by offering options not using guilt to make the victim do as you wish (manipulation, something an abuser loves to do).

I was in shock. I guess I assume all advocates follow the same ideology of deterring away from blaming the victim. But I guess this is exactly why I started my blog: to meet others with my same passion, who understand why a lot of society pisses me off but also to reach others and see how change can occur if the knowledge is spread to everyone.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Victim Blaming as Empowerment?

  1. Hello, BennyD10. Thought I’d leave a comment here on this post. Found you through Prego & the Loon who had found me some time ago. Such a lovely network here in blogging land.

    At any rate, I am a woman who has chosen out of violence, much like Prego. At the time, while I was in the violent marriage, I couldn’t see my way through to a different life and there were no options that anyone could have offered me that would have been delicious enough for me to choose until I chose ME first. As I’ve worked with my clients to leave abusive situations and heal from abuse – be it in their childhood, at the hands of a trusted family member or in their marriage – I’ve found that the greatest healing began when they were willing to release themselves from the role of victim and become accountable for their choices that “landed” them in the domestic violence. Now, asking a person to be accountable for their childhood abuse is ridiculous and is NOT what I am suggesting. However, within every abusive situation, there is something that can empower the “victim” – and the “perpetrator” – when they are ready to be empowered.

    At the core of who we are, human beings are simply energy. Energy attracts to like energy. If a person loves themselves (self-esteem) and treats themselves with the utmost respect, then they will not match an abusive relationship. Telling a woman to “love herself more” while in an abusive relationship is as helpful as moving her out of her abusive relationship before she’s ready to go. It ain’t gonna stick. However, helping her after the fact to see where she could be uplifting herself, rather than tearing herself down; where she can build up her self-esteem and love herself unconditionally; where she can fully support herself and tolerate no disrespect from anyone, starting with herself – all of these things ARE empowering.

    My theory on Prego’s post is that she is finally seeing in herself where she had let herself down and how to strengthen herself for the future. It is a process of falling in love with herself and never again allowing someone to abuse her – starting with herself – and that is one of the most empowering tools in her tool belt.

    Posted by angie k millgate | December 18, 2012, 12:12 pm
  2. Awesome.

    Posted by n.a. | December 29, 2012, 11:46 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Self Esteem and DV | Prego and the Loon - December 18, 2012

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