What if the Victim Did Make Mistakes?
Sometimes, trauma survivors do play some role in getting into situations in which they end up being traumatized, and it can be important to examine potential mistakes, naiveté, and self-sabotage, as one stage of the therapeutic process (generally after other, much more important, symptoms and issues are worked with).
This honest self-examination, however, is wholly contained within the world of the trauma survivor and is completely their personal business. This exposing of unwise decisions or weaknesses does not, in any way, shift the blame regarding the perpetrator’s own, freely chosen, acts over to the trauma survivor.
(Note that this article is Part 7 of the Blame the Victim Series and used to be called Blame the Victim Part 7 – The Lack of Basic Logic)
The Main Logical Problem of Blame the Victim
The main logical problem is this:
The victim’s actions that caused the victim to become vulnerable caused the perpetrator to act.
Perpetrators and others sometimes try to use the fact that a victim made some mistake, that alone did not result in trauma, as a way to try to shift the blame over to the victim. However, this is a logical fallacy.
For example, getting drunk at a party is perhaps unwise, but raping someone who is drunk is the cause of the trauma. Being drunk is just the cause of being out of it, being less aware. These are two completely separate things.
- Being drunk causes being out of it, dizzy, not coordinated and perhaps passing out. It causes vulnerability, weakness, lack of defenses. That’s it.
- Raping someone causes a traumatic, violating, life altering event.
The responsibility for the act of violation, and for the trauma inflicted by that act, lies with the perpetrator. That was their chosen action and the results in the victim are the results of that action.
The blame the victim mentality must be very powerful in our society at this time because it seems that there is a very high frequency of people confusing these things, when this is actually basic logic.
“Blaming the victim is by far the most common reaction people have when a victim tells others that she was sexually assaulted and is, by far, the most damaging. The idea is that the victim “put herself in that position” or was “asking for it.” — Stop Shaming Victims of Sexual Assault for Not Reporting
7 Blame the Victim Logical Problems
1. Because You Were Weak You Were Victimized Logical Problem
False – Being a victim means someone was weak. They brought it on themselves by being weak. They had some flaw that made the perpetrator single them out.
Truth – Strong people can be victims. Being a victim by itself does not tell us anything about if someone was strong or weak, or anything about their character.
2. Vulnerability Creates Trauma Logical Problem
False – The victim made a mistake or took an action that made him or her vulnerable and that caused the trauma.
Truth – The perpetrator caused the trauma by taking advantage of the vulnerability. Being vulnerable doesn’t cause a traumatic event to happen.
3. Disgust in Body Logical Problem
False – I feel disgust therefore I did something bad and am guilty and ashamed.
Truth – I feel disgust therefore someone did something to me that I find disgusting.
4. “You Create Your Own Reality” Logical Problem.
False – You created the trauma because you create your own reality.
Truth – People have Free Will. Nobody goes inside another person and makes them do things. Other people have free will and can impose themselves on others without consent.
5. Negative Thinking Logical Problem
False – You must have been thinking negative thoughts to draw those negative things into your life. You had negativity and resonated negative things to yourself.
Truth – A person can be thinking 100% positive thoughts and negative things can still happen. It may even be more likely because the person is not aware of negative possibilities.
6. Victim Consciousness Logical Problem.
False – You must have had victim consciousness; that led you to be a victim. Focusing on how you have been a victim and being aware of and conscious of how people victimize others leads to having a “consciousness” that is about being a victim which leads to more victimization.
Truth – Knowing all about how it’s possible for others to victimize you empowers you to protect yourself in the future.
7. Past Focus Logical Problem
False – Dwelling in the past keeps you stuck in your trauma and trauma symptoms, so you are creating them. Thinking about the past creates trauma symptoms.
Truth – Trauma symptoms and memories come up in the present on their own accord – the survivor has no control over this, it’s physiological. Addressing the past is a necessary and unavoidable part of the trauma healing process.
Everything in this article is the author’s personal opinion based on her experiences.