Have you ever noticed that when we see or hear tragedies, challenges or bad news on the news, internet or social media that so many people will leap to comment:
“They should have done XYZ and it would have stopped that”
“In my day, they wouldn’t have been allowed to do that”
“Where were their parents”
“If they hadn’t of worn that then…..”
“If they had just….. then it would have never happened”
However, sometimes, this happens on a day to day basis too.
The parent whose child is emotionally based school avoiding, who is told that they need to be a better parent and make their child go to school.
The child with anxiety who is told to ‘face their fears’ and just get into class
The parent whose child is exhibiting child on parent violence who is told that they need to ascertain firmer boundaries.
The domestic violence victim who is told that everyone ‘;knew something was wrong with their partner’.
The child who has undiagnosed autism who is told that they should manage their feelings better.
The individual with mental ill-health who is told that they just need to smile more.
We so often see victim blaming occur, and with the rise of outlets to view news and updates, we have perhaps opened more spaces for individuals to offer judgement. But, why do people do it? Do they even realise what they are doing?
At its core, for most, victim blaming can occur as an individual’s response of self-protection.
In order to feel better about the situation that they are witnessing or hearing about, if they can minimise the victim and perceive them as being a ‘bad’ person or at fault, they can feel better about it.
It can allow them to feel that in that situation they would have dealt with it better, differently or that it would not have happened to us. At our root, our core belief is that we want the world to be safe, so by blaming victims we develop a perception that this was their choice of behaviours which led to the crime. This means that when they minimise the crime/disservice/failure, and instead focus on what the victim should have done, they are able to reset the equilibrium and remind themselves that they know better.
But, what are the risks?
Victim blaming can:
- Prevent an individual sharing their struggles
- Prevent an individual coming forward and asking for help
- Prevent individuals receiving interventions of diagnosis that they need
- Reduce the outcomes of the individual
- Reduce the number of crimes which are reported
- Increase the impact on the victims of crime
- Prevents perpetrators being held accountable
- Protects perpetrators from being prosecuted
- Increases shame & guilt in the victim
How can we challenge our judgements?
Our priority when working with families, individuals or those struggling is instead to practice CURIOSITY.
- Be curious about what is happening
- Learn more about the challenges that individuals experience
- Be inquisitive about why you need to prove that it would not happen to you, rather than respect the experiences of others
- Attend training, read, seek supervision to support your own belief systems
- Step back and where you want to criticise/judge/point out weaknesses, stop and listen and ask ‘what is the need here?’
- Consider – what help is required? what information is needed? what support is available?
- Challenge your own thinking – where you want to judge, consider how you can better educate yourself to expand your knowledge to offer better support
Want to learn more?
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