One of the key barriers we face in society when providing appropriate support and resources to those affected by domestic violence is the rate in which we resort to victim blaming. When a woman is raped or murdered, we immediately question why she was walking alone in the first place or what was she wearing. We centre our questions on what the victim could have done to prevent their abuse rather than focusing on why the perpetrators committed the crime. Whether we as a society consciously or subconsciously blame the victim, the impacts of doing so are detrimental to our overall wellbeing.
Over time and through psychological frameworks, somehow women have been subjected to misplaced blame and shame.
According to a recent study commissioned by Our Watch, 37 per cent of young people agree it’s hard to respect a woman when she’s drunk, while 27 per cent believe it is hard to respect a woman wearing revealing clothing. Such attitudes possessed by the younger generations are particularly concerning as accountability and responsibility for one’s actions is slowly being overlooked.
However men are also equally subjected to victim blaming where they may be in denial. A women perpetrator’s actions are often justified as an act of defence in response to a man.
If we aspire to end domestic violence, social attitudes must shift where we don’t allow violence to be excused, justified or condoned. We need to believe what is being said, regardless of the victim’s gender and focus our efforts to ensuring adequate resources exist for all victims who feel powerless and reluctant to seek help.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to speak with a trained counsellor from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service.