Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Survivor Shaming (Victim Blaming) CONTENT WARNING

I read an article today in the Metro pertaining to a survivor of the Rotherham Sex Gangs and her son. As I often do, I decided to also read the comments (WHY DO I DO THIS?!) and engaged in a conversation with one particular commenter.

Below you will see the conversation. I have redacted names and comments from others.

THEM: She was in love with him? WTF?
It's all wrong but political correctness lead by the Labour Gov't extended the abuse by these gangs long after it should have ended.
At 14/15 I would hope that most girls could distinguish between love and abuse.
She aborted once but then got pregnant soon after then admits she thought they were in LOVE?
That says it all.

ME: If you have never been in that position you have no idea what it is like!

THEM: That's true but that's my opinion. Also the critique about the Labour Gov't is fact as the inquiry showed.
When I was that age I was studying for my O Grades and working straight after school every night as were my sisters. We had no time for that.

ME: I didn't disagree about the government involvement/corruption but your opinion on how she ought to have realised it wasn't love is incredibly damaging to survivors of this kind of abuse.

THEM: I don't see it as damaging if other young girls realise that grooming isn't love if they see this discussion here or somewhere else and it makes sense.
I'm not blaming the victims for this, I'm highlighting that fact that they believed that grooming was love and continued abusive relationships like this.I wonder how much of her reasoning is based on the need to ameliorate the circumstances under which the son was born to make him (son) and herself feel better.

ME: She was a child! You say you are not victim blaming yet you are also suggesting that she should have known better. As a survivor of abuse, I know first hand how abusers can grind you down. It isn't easy for a person to see outside of their own situation in cases like these. Your thoughts are not your own. No person willingly enters into an abusive relationship.

THEM: She should have been warned about the grooming gangs by her parents. From what I've learned from the inquiry many parents of victims tried to warn their kids but couldn't stop them going out and getting abused. How much was due to child like innocence and how much due to stupidity?

ME: Or rather how much was due do dangerous and manipulative individuals?

THEM: I would guess if all these girls were at home studying and watching tv then none of this would have taken place on the scale it did. As a father of a daughter the same age I can guarantee she will never be groomed or fall into an abusive relationship. I warned her from an early age the dangers of grooming. She has told me of every incidence of paedophiles and other idiots approaching her on social media and real life and I've reported them to CEOP and the Met.

ME: I was abused as a young teen and then got involved in an abusive relationship as a young adult. Is that my own fault? I am above average in intellect and by your logic you would think having been through it once I would be able to avoid it again in the future right? Abusers don't wear signs. They look the same as everyone else. They manipulate a person into believing their lies. I suggest you look up gaslighting. As I said earlier, until you have been through it, you have no idea.

THEM: I will reply to this when I get back in the house.


THEM: I am very aware of the results of sexual, physical and mental abuse. I have dealt with the fallout of abuse of close friends and family and none of them described it as love which is the point I was making. Just because you suffered during your younger years doesn't mean that you have to keep reliving that life and keep suffering.

ME: Second hand knowledge is no where near the same as first hand experience.
I was too young in the first instance to realise what my abuser was doing and how wrong it was. He had me convinced that if I told anyone then I would be blamed.
In the second instance, I truly was in love with my abuser. I believed him every time he said he wouldn't do it again. My heart broke every time he wept an apology. I wanted to believe that he wouldn't do it again. Every time. For two years.
Predators are unlike "ordinary" people. They live to manipulate and control and they are very good at it.

THEM: I get what you're saying, I do. I was told by a psychiatrist that people who've suffered that kind of abuse shouldn't tell their loved ones about it, by that I mean new partners and new friends because they can't help change the past and it leads to breakdowns in relationships and that's what I tell my close friends that have been through it. You owe it to yourself to learn from it and control the hurt it's caused and live a better life. That could mean steering your kids and friends away from the same malevolent people and behaviour. That's not meant to be patronising but I can't say it any other way. I feel sad for this lady in the story and I wasn't intentionally insulting her.

ME: I'm not sure who this psychiatrist was but they are incredibly wrong and probably ought to not be practicing! Talking about these sorts of things help to raise awareness.
I talk about my own abusive past in an attempt to help other survivors know that they are not alone. 

When you say "they can't help change the past" I don't get what you mean by that. The past is gone and can never be changed. Telling new friends/partners about my own abuse has never lead to a breakdown of the relationship.

Of course you ought to learn from past mistakes but as I stated earlier, predators are unlike "ordinary" people. They appear to be like everyone else on the outside and sometimes it can take many years to realise what they are doing/have done. You can educate as much as you like but these people can subvert even the most intelligent individuals. I know this because it has happened to me.
I had no doubt that you were not intentionally insulting this lady but words cause more damage than the intent behind them. You can do aboslutely everything in your power to protect those you love but sometimes it's just not enough. Sometimes the predators are simply too smart.

Victim blaming (or as I prefer to call it, survivor shaming) is absolutely everywhere. Practially all rape/abuse cases are reported with a sort of bias towards the survivor. What were they wearing? How much did they drink? What did they do to provoke it? etc. I'm sure you've seen it in the media. It happens too in the courtrooms.
As decent human beings, we ought to do our best to not shame the survivor. Sometimes that means we have to be really careful with the words that we use. I'm not at all having a go, just giving you the facts as a survivor of more than one incident. 

I will add to this if any more is said.

This is classic survivor shaming (victim blaming). I wanted to break down his responses and highlight exactly how he is survivor shaming but I just don't have enough spoons!
This person doesn't see their comments as damaging. Of course not. It's so much easier to blame the survivor. Why? 

Survivor shaming is not unique to rape survivors. Those who are bullied are questioned. People living in poverty are seen as lazy good-for-nothings. People with mental health issues are often blamed for having bad lifestyle choices (drunk/drugs etc). The list goes on. People even blame themselves when shit things happen to them!  

It's easy to blame the survivor for inviting these things into their own lives. If they truly were innocent then that means that BAD things happen to GOOD people and that just doesn't happen right RIGHT?? 

This is one of the reasons I struggle with "self help" stuff and NLP. These types of things often out the onus of the struggles onto the individual. I'm sure you've heard before "You get out what you put in" or "The universe can only return what you send out". This kind of thinking is also dangerous and destructive! 

The world can be an unsafe place, it is for many. It can also be unjust. I consider myself to be a good person. I've had many people tell me that they think I'm selfless or I do amazing things for those less fortunate than I. 

If the universe returned what I had sent out then surely by now I'm due some real good fortune? Instead I'm trying my damnedest to keep my head above water.

I don't think that the universe is out to get me. I know that I'm probably a bit too sensitive. I see a lot more than your average individual. Being so open leaves me open to the bad things as well as the good. 

People often say that one person can't change the world. They're wrong. One person could inspire someone else who in turn could inspire 10 more people and so on.
Instead of blaming people for the situation that they are in, why not see how you can help them change that situation?

One by one we can all change the world!

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