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What is Victim Blaming?

Understanding Victim Blaming in Sexual Assault

Even though the #MeToo movement has raised awareness about sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse over the past several years, there is still a stigma many survivors endure — that somehow, survivors are responsible for their assault. While some progress has been made in shedding light on how survivors can get help and receive support, victim-blaming continues to be a problem. Here's what you need to know about victim-blaming and how to support sexual assault survivors.

Unsupportive Victim Blaming Statements

Victim blaming is one of the reasons why many survivors of sexual assault and abuse are afraid to speak out against their perpetrators; they are often made to feel unsupported and responsible for their sexual assault. The following are some of the most common victim-blaming statements that you should avoid:

  • What were you wearing?
  • What did you think would happen if you dressed like that?
  • Were you being flirtatious?
  • You shouldn't have gotten into their car.
  • Why did you agree to go to their apartment?
  • Did you have too much to drink?
  • Why didn't you scream for help or fight back?
  • You should have called the police.
  • Why didn't you report this sooner?

The above are just a few examples. Any statements you say or imply that the assault was the survivor's fault is victim-blaming. Read on to learn what you should say when someone confides in you about their experience with sexual assault.

Phrases You Can Use to Show Support

When someone tells you about their experience with sexual assault, it means they trust you. Using victim-blaming statements can quickly make them feel ashamed and regret speaking out. The following are some statements that can let your loved one know you support them:

  • I believe you.
  • The sexual assault was not your fault.
  • Thank you for sharing your experience with me.
  • I am here for you.
  • I respect your decision to speak out (or not speak out) against your perpetrator.

When talking to a sexual assault survivor, allow them to tell their story without interruption. Don't ask for details about the assault unless they voluntarily tell you. Asking them to give details about the assault may trigger reliving the experience. Be patient and listen with empathy.

Related Article: Supporting Your Loved One Who is a Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor

How Sexual Assault Survivors Can Get Help.

Sexual assault is one of the most devastating experiences someone can go through. The emotional, physical, and psychological damage can never be repaired, and many survivors are left confused and don't know where to turn for help. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual assault, speaking out against your perpetrator can not only bring them to justice but can also help bring you closure. When you need help and support, The Zalkin Law Firm, P.C. is here for you. We believe you and are ready to guide you every step of the way.

Contact us today (800) 477-2989 to learn your rights.