Victim Blaming in Domestic Abuse

“What did she do to wind him up so badly?”

“She shouldn’t have been drinking.”

“She slept with his best mate, is it any wonder he lost it?”

“She dressed like a slag and gets raped. Didn’t she ask for it?”

Historically and today, women have been blamed for the abuse they have been subjected to.

Men have blamed them, the courts have blamed them, the police have blamed them, society has blamed them and most commonly, they have accepted this blame and blamed themselves.

A massive hurdle that women encounter when recovering from abuse, is to learn how to stop blaming themselves, stop feeling shamed and recover their sense of self-worth and intrinsic value.

When blaming the victims, who are generally women, the perpetrators, generally men get ‘let off the hook’. In this environment patriarchy and Domestic Abuse thrive. In this environment women experiencing Domestic Abuse feel shamed and reluctant to acknowledge their abuse, seek help or report it for fear of the stigma that may ensue.

Victim blaming is appalling and the societal influence of victim blaming represses women and justifies men’s abuse of them.

Feminists, women’s groups and those who advocate against domestic abuse often have a very strong anti victim blaming agenda. They are highly vocal and rightly angry about this appalling and unfair treatment of women.

These issues need to be robustly confronted if we are to make progress towards changing the culture in which Domestic Abuse thrives.

Blame for abuse needs to be directed firmly towards the perpetrator. Men can’t keep being seen as the hapless victims of their own jealous and possessive natures, or sympathised with for their inability to control their rampant and uncontrollable sexual drives or violent natures.

Women can’t keep being blamed for nagging, burning the dinner, looking like a slapper, being manipulative temptresses, being stupid, inciting rage, asking for it, looking ‘up for it’, winding him up, giving mixed messages or making him jealous.

This has to stop!

A general proposition in statute law is that a person is not able to consent to infliction of serious harm or by extension their own death. It’s shocking that this proposition needed to be re-clarified in the Domestic Abuse Act of 2021 to stop men from using the ‘rough sex gone wrong’ defence to murder in crown court.

legal advice
To think that this defence was successfully used, with many murder cases being convicted as manslaughter until very recently demonstrates just how embedded our culture of victim blaming really is.

Domestic murders have often been referred to as ‘crimes of passion’, the obsessive psychopathic stalker who refuses to leave his ex-girlfriend alone has elicited public sympathy when he murders her. It doesn’t help that popular fiction often glamorises and normalises obsessive jealousy. In 2016, Natalie Connolly was killed by her boyfriend John Broadhurst after he caused 40 separate injuries. He said her death was due to a sex game gone wrong. On the judge’s direction, the murder charge was dropped and he pleaded to manslaughter by gross negligence for failing to seek medical help.

You can read the conclusion of this blog, and what we can all do to fight these attitudes on Sandra Reddish’s website.

Blog written by BWP Outreach Worker, Sandra Reddish.

Sandra hopes to reach thousands more women by sharing her wisdom in a new book One in Four Women,  which is now for sale on Amazon. In the self-published book, Sandra shares her incredible knowledge of the vital steps to recovery for women who have been abused. Starting with their gaining a solid understanding of the complexity of abuse they’ve faced, and perpetrator’s behaviour.

You may also want to read these further blogs from Sandra.

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