Tuesday, April 19, 2016

To All The Victim Blamers Out There

Written by: Fenna Vlekke

This is a message to all the people out there who blame me and other survivors for the abuse we've experienced. I don't want to hear it. I don't care that you may not understand. It may give you a good reason to ask me questions, but not to condemn me for the choices I've made amidst awful cicumstances. Of course you wouldn't have acted the same way as I did. Of course you would have been the perfect victim. Or maybe not a victim at all, because, well... who goes out late at night, or gets out of bed in the morning, or goes to work, or falls asleep alongside their partner, or dresses a certain way or act so nice? I mean, really, how stupid are survivors?

It's so tiring to hear over and over again how we should have prevented it. How they may not have known our 'no' was a genuine 'no'. It's so infuriating that people only think about the small chance that we're lying and ruining someone's life in the process, while they ruin ours by not taking us seriously. There are just so many small and big ways in which I see victim blaming all the freaking time. And it's hard to not take it personally. Because I'm well aware that for some people, it doesn't really matter what you did or didn't do. It was still your fault.

People often feel the need to say that victims and survivors should take more responsibility for what happened. I think that's a very clear sign that they don't know what the hell they're talking about. I've talked to a lot of survivors over the years, and there hasn't been one person who doesn't blame themselves one way or another. That's even the reason they often don't come forward immediately (yes, I know, that's also a reason to not take us seriously at all). It's a long and hard process to find a way to blame ourselves a little less. To feel less all-consuming shame and guilt. 

And then there are these victim blamers who are just hell-bent on making us feel guilty and responsible again. As if we haven't already said all those awful things to ourselves at one point. And dare I say, one of the main reasons I stayed in an abusive relationship, was because I took full responsibility for what happened. That was the reason I couldn't save myself. Because I, and people I confided in, thought that what had happened to me, was my fault and my fault alone. How dared I even question if my then-boyfriend did anything wrong? There wasn't even enough reason to be angry with him. And so I stayed, and tried to change myself, and you know what happened? It all kept getting worse and worse and I became even more trapped.

So to everyone wanting us to take responsibility for the abuse we've been through, don't worry, we've got that covered. And blaming us only makes sure that our healing will take that much longer. But, more importantly, people who are still in a dangerous situation and hear your victim blaming statements, won't feel empowered to take action. They'll feel more trapped than ever. If you really want to empower victims and survivors, want them to not 'play the victim' and take charge of their own lives, make sure they know it's not their fault. That it's their right not to be abused. This will help them be more vocal and empowers them to create and uphold healthy boundaries. If only more people understood that.

Written by: Fenna Vlekke
Country: The Netherlands
Social media:
Twitter: @FennaVlekke
Facebook: www.facebook.com/fvlekke

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