Victim Blaming Needs to Stop
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Sexual harassment and assault is quite rampant nowadays. According to this news article, 35% of women experience sexual assault worldwide, and someone gets raped every hour in the Philippines alone. Sadly, these victims face a lot of difficulties seeking help, mostly because they are afraid to be judged. It seems like some people aren’t able to stop themselves from saying hurtful words to the victims of sexual assault. Victim blaming should not be tolerated by society because it causes emotional problems to the victim, we cannot make any assumptions about what they’ve gone through or are still going through, and we should keep in mind that what the perpetrators have done will always be wrong.
Victims who are blamed for being sexually abused can suffer from emotional problems such as trauma, depression and anxiety. The National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) reported that only 3 out of 10 Filipino women who have been victims of sexual abuse asked for help and the World Health Organization (WHO) observed that the reason why women do not report is because of insufficient support systems, shame and fear of being blamed and judged. It is clear that they are afraid of being labelled as someone they are really not, so they’d rather keep it to themselves. Those who reach out end up being told what they should be doing or should have done, and as a result some wish they had not decided to open up in the first place. With easy access to social media, it is easier for people to see news regarding this issue and to say something rude about the victim. Seeing these hateful comments causes them to question themselves, and they should not be feeling worse than they are already.
With the number of people who experienced different forms of sexual assault, we can say that not all of these are the same story. We may or may not have experienced this kind of treatment, so we cannot always connect our stories with others. Even so, a few still tend to judge based on what they hear as if they know everything that happened. We cannot assume what a victim has gone or is going through because we are not them. What is often seen or heard that society says about the victim are:
“Why did you drink alcohol with guys?”
“It’s because you always go to parties or go home late,”
“What were you wearing? It was obviously something revealing,”
“You should’ve said no or did something,”
“You are both in a relationship, nothing’s wrong with that,”
Even “For sure you liked it, too,” and other shameful words.
All of these are wrong beliefs. Rape can happen to anyone, even men or children. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, as long as someone wants to sexually harass you, that person will regardless of the time and place. No matter how much you drink, if someone has no bad motive towards you, he/she will not sexually harass you. It is difficult to fight back mainly because of fear. Whether in a relationship or not, if the person was forced, it is rape. As a matter of fact, 64% of women who were reported to be raped or sexually harassed was caused by their partners. These and other reasons explain why these assumptions by the public are wrong and there is never a justification for a person getting raped. We should not judge these victims’ experiences, instead, we should listen to them, believe in them, avoid giving negativity to them, and instead support them What they need is for us to understand in order to help them heal.
Making the victim feel as if it was it was their fault may only let the offender feel they can act like that again, thinking it is only natural for them to do so. We should focus on accusing the perpetrator instead of accusing the victim for something they did not wish to happen. Whatsoever the situation may be, rape and other kinds of sexual assault and harassment is wrong, and the accountability for this lies with the perpetrators. None of those awful experiences would have happen to the victim if only there was respect that took place over lust. We are free to do what we want as long as we do not harm anyone, so wearing skimpy outfits, drinking alcohol, coming home late or other reasons should never be an excuse for someone to commit sexual assault because no matter what we are doing, if an offender wants to victimize someone, he/she will even if he/she is someone you know or not.
We all know that no simply means no. Instead of making victims feel bad, we should know that what they need more than anything is support. Instead of falsely blaming the victims of sexual harassment or assault, we should be open-minded and understand. Instead of telling them what they should or should not do, we should tell everyone that zippers are made to be zipped. The culture of victim blaming needs to be eliminated, and so we must educate each other in order to achieve this. Let us learn to respect each other regardless of our differences.