Victim-blaming comes in many forms, and is oftentimes subtle. Any time someone defaults to questioning what a victim could have done differently to prevent a crime, he or she is participating, in victim blaming.
What is victim blaming?
Victim blaming refers to a practice of questioning what a victim could have done differently in order to prevent a crime from happening, implying the fault of the crime lies with the victim rather than the perpetrator. A person who wonders how the victim of a crime could have behaved differently or made different choices to avoid being affected by a crime or other negative events or circumstance is engaging in some degree of victim blaming. Examples might include suggestions that an individual provoked an attack.
“She was wearing a tight dress, she asked for it”.
Why does it exist?
Holding victims responsible for their misfortune is partially a way to avoid admitting that something just as unthinkable could happen to you—even if you do everything “right.”
“I would have been more careful,” or “That will never happen to me,”
People are more likely to accept natural disasters as inescapable. Yet, many people assume that they have a little more control over whether they become victims of crimes, believing that they can take precautions that will protect them. This belief makes it difficult to accept that the victims of these crimes didn’t contribute to (or bear some responsibility for) their own victimisation.
In this season, Diana has relentlessly tried to silence and shame Francis. Accusing her of lying and insisting that Francis is seeking attention. Diana vehemently asserts her version of events to preserve the privileges and freedoms she extracts from engaging with one of the involved attackers friends. Many people tend to default to victim-blaming thoughts and behaviours as a defence mechanism.
Why it is harmful?
Many people who have been the victim of sexual assault or rape experience some degree of self-blame and shame. Victim blaming can perpetuate those feelings of shame and also decrease the likelihood of a victim seeking help and support, due to fear of being further shamed or judged for their “role” in the crime or attack.
Being a victim of crime is likely to be traumatic in and of itself, but being blamed for the crime, even subtly or unconsciously, may lead a person to feel as if they are under attack once again and can lead to increased depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
Victim blaming may also prevent people from reporting the crime. Survivors of a crime may hesitate to report the issue, for fear of being blamed, judged, or not believed. This is often the case for people who have survived rape and other sexual assault. This season of Shuga Naija opens with Faa experiencing the public scrutiny of accusing a famous and beloved personality. Seeing the humiliating and dehumanising criticism that Faa is subjected to, Francis concludes that she won’t be believed either.
Victim blaming contributes to rape culture, by fostering a society in which people make excuses for the perpetrator instead of supporting the victim. Remember that no matter what an individual affected by sexual assault or rape did or did not do, sexual assault or rape is always the fault of the perpetrator, not the victim. Regardless of how a victim acted, the perpetrator of the assault or rape is the only one who should be held responsible for that crime.