Thursday, April 12, 2012

Victim Blamming

William Ryan coined the term “blaming the victim” in 1971 in his book Blaming the Victim.  He describes victim blaming as an ideology to justify racism and other social injustices.  Victim blaming seems to happen when it is a crime involving certain things like rape and racism.  When is the line crossed between blaming the victim and the victim being completely reckless with how he or she behaves, where he or she is at, and what he or she is doing?

A year ago it seemed like every other day here at Illinois State we were getting alerts saying that someone had been assaulted or violated in some way.  This year luckily we have not seen as many.  Recently there was an armed robbery on campus, under the overpass of College and Main St at 4 o’clock in the morning.  Wondering why someone would be walking home under an overpass at 4 in the morning, is that considered victim blaming or is it just a generalized question? 

I personally think that anyone should be able to walk anywhere at anytime and not be fearful of what is going to happen, but unfortunately we do not live in that type of society.  I feel as though people should make smarter decisions and be aware of their surroundings at all times. 

Recently blaming the victim has even been seen in many popular cases, one of those cases being the Trayvon Martin case.  Many people are blaming the victim for being in the area he was in and walking with his hood up in a gated community. 

 Blaming the victim is also why rape shield laws went into effect to make sure that the victims personal, sexual history that did not pertain to the offender could not be used against him or her in trail.  I feel as though there should be a type of rape shield law in most crimes, so that the officers, prosecutors, and judges can be more open minded and see the case for what it is. The person that was assaulted at 4 a.m., instead of badgering the victim asking them why they were walking home at that time, and why they went under an overpass at night, they should be asking what the offender looked like, where the offender went, what the offender said—etc.  Questions would be more accurate and would better help assist the possible arrest of suspects instead of making the victim feel as though they did something wrong.

Blaming the victim has also prevented many victims from coming forward.  Many people are scared that their past behavior will contribute to their case.  I believe that police officers have a job to do, they need to ask certain question and make sure they have all their facts lined up correctly, but how do we question in a way that the victim does not feel as though we do not believe them or that we are blaming them for being essentially in the wrong place at the wrong time?

1 comment:

  1. I think this is really sad, when case really bother me when the offender states something like the victim had on red, its their fault that color arouses me. Or something like that I think its ridiculous and an excuse that hopefully gets them nowhere in court.
    The Trayvon Martin case was upsetting as well especially when Geraldo blamed Trayvon because he wore a hood in the rain. How sad was that for a man of his stature to say, I found it very ignorant and uneducated to say the least.