Can We Stop Victim Blaming? How Domestic Violence Prevails
A quote that I see frequently my IG and Twitter timeline is: “You attract what you are,” and I’ve got to say, that quote bothers me sometimes. Especially when it comes to domestic abuse. October is Domestic Abuse Awareness month, and this seems like there’s no better time than now to address the perceptions that people have of domestic abuse victims and the blame people place on them.
As time has gone on domestic abuse has been placated to the position of a joke, and then the rationalizations begin to surface. “Aww, that chick had to have done something. I bet she probably hit him first, or was talking crazy, thinking that a man wasn’t going to hit her while she’s acting like a man. Proved her wrong.” “It’s her fault, she shouldn’t have jumped in a relationship so fast, not knowing the person, then it wouldn’t have ever happened.” Or the line that makes that small vein in my eye throb of: “You attract what you are.” Why must people say such stupid things?
Domestic abuse is an issue that is important to address across all racial lines, and according to statistics from the Domestic Violence Resource Center, 25% of women will face domestic abuse in their lifetime. That’s one in four women. On top of that, African American women have the highest statistics for domestic violence and fatalities by the hands of a current/past partner, but it is the most under reported crime (meaning that the numbers, as high as they are, are even higher due to people not speaking up until the last minute).
So many times I feel as though we fall victim, ourselves, due to the theory that W.E.B. DuBois coined as “double consciousness.” The theory expressed that for African Americans we see ourselves through two different consciousness; who we are, and how others perceive us. So, a lot of times we behave in the way that we’re expected to, it becomes some what of a self-fulfilling prophecy. African Americans are seen as uberly strong individuals. We’re the “don’t take crap” from anyone, and if you have something to say to me, I’ll shut you down with the quickness, and sometimes we might get to the point that we believe our own hype. This hype, I believe, is one of the reasons why so many African American women stay silent to the abuse, that and victim blaming.
It’s not easy knowing that the world expects you to be strong, but you’re cowering under someone else’s fists, and/or insults? On top of that, there’s the fear of the question: “Well, what did you do?” that haunts some women. Feeling that if when you go for help, the blame will be put on you. And that’s not fair.
Let’s get things straight. No sane person goes into a relationship asking to be abused, degraded, or made to question their own self-worth. You didn’t ask for that to happen. So no, it’s not your fault. Regardless of what anyone says to you. Even if they use the line, “You should have waited until you knew him/her better,” it’s still not your fault. Most abusers are able to hide the monsters that they really are to get into a relationship. For my case, I was with someone for an entire year before the abuse came. But, let’s take it to an extreme example. Dennis Rader. This man was married, had two children, and four years after his wedding, he started killing people under the name “BTK.” According to all accounts, his wife had no idea, and had no reason to be fearful of this man, the same one who terrified the citizens of Witchita, Kansas.
But, before I let you go, let’s also dissect one more misconception, domestic abuse is not limited to women. There are men who are abused by women as well, verbally and physically, and none of it is right. Whether you’re a man or a woman, no one has a right to put their hands on you, and hurt you. You didn’t ask for it, and you didn’t get into that relationship expecting it to happen.
For most cases, you were a good person, who just so happened to be with a terrible human being. That’s not a reflection on you, it’s a reflection on them and the ghastly ways that they tried to control and harm you. You are so much more than that, and so much more than what a “meme” is dictating about you. Always remember that.