BLAMING THE VICTIM

LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION

I am a sophomore at Queens College and I have a s***-ton of exams next week.  But right now I am just sobbing as I write this. To blow off steam before hunkering down to study, I went to a house party hosted by the Hodges twins — a great, trusty pair of guys I grew up with in the neighborhood.  My boyfriend Noah couldn’t make the party.  When Noah acted like I shouldn’t go without him, I just ignored him.  He’d be happy if I just stayed in the house, got drunk with him every night and played Call of Duty XP. He has no social life outside me and classes when he even bothers to go.  Well, a couple of strange jock guys at Hodges party were doing shots of Jager and getting grabby.  At one point, two of them picked me up bodily and tried to carry me into a bedroom.  The Hodges twins two-pieced each wanna-be rapist and threw them out.   I was glad it turned out okay and got a ride home.  When I called Noah and told him about it, he had no sympathy: “You went to that party dressed all sexy after dark. You were drinking, weren’t you? You were asking for it!” First of all, I wasn’t even drinking.  I don’t heart Noah any more.

-Monica B.

I met Earl on a call when I was an EMT working the nightshift on a rainy Monday.  He had called an ambulance at the local Murray Hill frat boy BBQ spot when drunken brawling got bloody after the Indianapolis Colts lost without their star Quarterback.  Things between Earl and I escalated pretty quickly from dating to exclusive to love to eloping and three babies. Our twin boys Devin and Derek and then our baby girl Dana completed our happy new family.  Then his Mama came to live with us after her mastectomy and while her chemo was ongoing which is what families do for each other. Or so I thought. My husband Earl left me last year 2 months before our 3 year anniversary, and we stayed apart for 5 months. The whole time I was with his kids and his Mama alone, and he constantly claimed he didn’t want to be married anymore. Even before we separated he had been trawling the ‘Net for barely-legal porn, lurking in chatrooms with young girls, and even talking with some girls on his disposable cell phone after I went to bed. Now’s he’s confessed he got a Ecuadorean high schooler pregnant out in Bushwick. And now just as suddenly he’s also talking reconciliation. And he’s asking if she can come live with us to raise their baby.  I’m like, what?! I been talking to my Mom, his Mom and his sisters about it and they are unanimous in their criticism: “It’s your fault for marrying that down-low man who cheats. You should have known.”

-Shari P.

WARNING SIGNALS

It comes as a shock when our loved ones not only don’t care when we are hurt but also blame us.  It’s interesting that the victim is the responsible party — not the criminal creep who assaulted her.
Sometimes, coming from women, the blame is coming from their own unresolved feelings and guilt about some things they went through or did.  But even that insight isn’t helpful to us in our state of need.
It’s worthwhile also to consider whether this blame-game is sexism.  Like racism, sexism is presumed to be out of fashion and assumed not to exist.  But it ‘s not so long ago that women in the United States couldn’t vote, inherit or own property or work outside the home. And I think that the vestiges of sexism are still very much alive today.  And women ourselves are just as capable of being sexist as men.
But journey with me into the Sexist Animus, or mind, if you will: according to this “Men First” doctrine, women are supposed to be subservient and less worthy than men.  Men are supposed to exclusively enjoy power and control exclusively while women can’t even have autonomy or the right to choose most significant aspects of their life circumstances like making a living, whether to have children or whether to have sex.  Furthermore, sexist men have to be right all the time which means women always have to be wrong.
To a sexist man, women are sexually available always because might makes right and “no” means nothing coming from a woman. So given sexism and lawlesslness, let’s face it: all a woman has to do to ask to be sexually assaulted is have a pulse.
Another important way to decipher this blaming of the victim involves “masking.”  The perpetrator of sexual assault or cheating didn’t jump out the closet wearing black and twisting his moustache like a cartoon villain.   No, they play the nice guy role ’til you’re in a vulnerable position.  Then they trick you and do wrong. Anybody can dupe another person if they put their mind to it. Lying, acting, pretending and running game are the only requirements.
We enter relationships and social encounters with trust.  That trust makes hurting us really easy — as easy to do as it’s wrong.

Good masking is just good disguising of the self.  It’s a social skill even our best and closest loved ones can perpetrate.

You’ll say, “But I thought you cared about me.”  They’ll blink and reply, “Oh, well.  Guess you were wrong.”

TROUBLE-SHOOTING

Part of the cold, harshness of adult life is the lack of sympathy from other people. It’s especially hard to take when you have undergone trauma.  But you have to weather it and keep on keeping on.

Thankfully there are writings by other survivors of sexual assault and infidelity.  And support groups at colleges, churches, therapy offices and beyond.

Like with this blog, seeking out community of thought to talk, share and disagree is often the best therapy for understanding and moving past your pain.  The Feminist community has been tremendous for helping to bring these issues and discussion of them into the light through women’s story circles.

I urge you as a woman to find out more about supporting women undergoing this type of crisis even if it hasn’t personally touched you yet.

2 thoughts on “BLAMING THE VICTIM

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