Victim blaming must stop


Photo: Juliana Wall

Victim blaming continues to poison our society as many innocent victims are blamed for acts they had no responsibility in. In the past, many victim blaming cases have revolved around cases of domestic violence, gun violence and sexual assault. (Manipulated photo)

On February 15, 2014, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fianceé were arrested on charges of assault after an altercation at an Atlantic City hotel. A video of Rice dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator was released by TMZ.

Then, on September 8, TMZ released an additional video from inside the elevator, which revealed Rice’s fianceé, Janay Palmer, to actually be the victim of an assault from Rice. Following the release of this video, the Baltimore Ravens announced that they were terminating Rice’s contract, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated they would be suspending Rice indefinitely.

However, this is more than an NFL issue: it is an issue of domestic violence and victim blaming. While some have defended Palmer and demanded that justice be served, others have blamed her for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for allegedly egging her fianceé on by yelling at him.

“The message is, take the stairs,” said one Fox News anchor in response to, not only this fight, but other domestic violence incidents in the past involving celebrities. Rather than Rice being held accountable for his actions, the anchor blamed the victim of the crime and even turned this case of domestic violence into a joke.

“There’s something called the just world phenomenon,” said Emily Philpott, who teaches AP Psychology and AP World History at St. George’s, “[where] we tend to want to see the world as a just place where people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. We don’t want to think that we can be a good person and going about our day and something terrible could happen to us… We are less stressed, less anxious and happier if we think if we believe and follow that phenomenon.”

While the villain of these crimes can be encouraged to stop committing these violent acts, which could completely cease these problems from arising in the future, others will blame the victim for saying the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes, or going to the wrong places, which is the reason why it is imperative for victim blaming to stop.

According to a study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics, 50 percent of teenagers who had committed sexual violence felt that their victim was entirely responsible.

Therefore, these situations are dangerous because criminals continue to commit these offenses without any repercussions, serving as examples that it is possible to get away with domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other similar acts.

After familiarizing ourselves with the toxicity of victim blaming, we are still left to wonder how we can change this flaw in our society.

“Often it’s more complicated than… the media can make stories seem,” said Philpott. “We just need to be aware of the way that we process information and the way that we think about things.. before making quick judgements and assumptions.”

In order to rid the world around us of its habit to blame the victim, we must continue to discuss these cases and make it clear to others what victim blaming is and why it is so hazardous to society.