Rethinking Victimhood: There’s plenty to go around

Humans are creatures of extremes and over-correction.  Accountability seems to be a part of an unbalanced equation. Only one person can be held accountable for any negative result. This seems so counter intuitive. I remember hearing Mum say “they’re both to blame” or “we’re both to blame” so many times in my childhood that I guess I’ve always looked at incidents as being multi-causal. It isn’t a popular view, and I understand (see introductory statement) that in most cases it’s a defense against some initial imbalance.

Abuse has been on my mind of late. Rape too, given the media. In a large number of cases the dividing lines and blame are clear, but at what point are we absolved of the responsibility of maintaining our own safety?

Some long years back, when my god-sister was an early teen one of her friends was raped and stabbed and left in the bath tub of a mobile home. This was the initial, horrific story that she tearfully recounted to us when she showed up on our doorstep for a weekend visit. We, of course, had to have all the horrible conversations about bad people, about not blaming the victim, how she could be there for her friend, how to bring up the subject of counseling should the girl need it and not have it, etc etc.

A week, maybe two, later, we had to have an entirely different conversation. It turned out that the teenager had gone to the trailer alone with two adult males who were drug dealers to “party” with them and while NONE OF THIS TAKES THE BLAME FROM THOSE TWO MEN  for the violence they committed against someone, we are each responsible for the places we go and the things we do. The short, grisly statement that no one wants to hear is that SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE GONE.

Ah, blame. Plenty to go around, though not in the sense that it should be prosecuted. The crime of rape and assault rests firmly on the shoulders of the two dealers. FIRMLY. But there is plenty to go around and we’ve become a right nation of victims because everyone wants EVERYTHING to be some one else’s fault.

Imagine trying to have that conversation in today’s climate. Imagine the logical parallels that only lead to my being a monster for even saying them out loud.  I won’t make the mistake of comparing men to nonhuman animals. The humanists out there just look for that as an excuse to discredit. Let’s try the simplest, most sadly human example.

If there is a warzone, an area of horrific KNOWN violence, and a person walks willingly and knowingly into that area and is then shot in the head, then they had some part in their demise. Doesn’t mean that the person who pulled the trigger is any less responsible. (<—Read that again, because I mean it). We, especially here in the good ol’ USA, are hung up on rights. We think we have the right to do <insert anything here> and we do, but we also have to deal with the consequences. It doesn’t always mean that we “deserve” whatever happens (especially in the examples above), but it does mean that we had a hand in what happened to us. I could get into how a nation of victims is easier to control, but that sounds like a conspiracy theory that I don’t want to get into on this fine Saturday afternoon. Instead, I’m going to go play with my puppies.

I will visit this again, but for now a bit of light reading (ha). Dr. Zur expresses things far better, and honestly his take is refreshing (and rare) in a cultural climate that veers sharply between blaming the victim and blaming the perpetrator. At the risk of using a term over used by historians: We really need to find some middle ground. Blaming the perp is important. It’s right. It’s true. ETC. But once done, once the one who committed the violence is put away, the potential for victimhood remains. There is always another situation, another predator. Human beings are not curbing or evolving past this violence. They are ignoring it, locking it up, and denying any responsibility for the acts beyond that of offender.

Okay, I’ll stop. Read this. I’m not saying it’s all exactly right, but it’s a good start in a dialogue that no one seems to want to have.  Psychology of Victimhood: Rethinking “Don’t Blame the Victim”



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