Tag Archives: victim blaming

The opposite of Mercy

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Trigger Warning: Physical and Sexual abuse, Child abuse, Torture, Victim Blaming

Cruelty is the opposite of Mercy; to have the power to hurt someone and choose to do so. It is not the same as being mean to someone. Here’s why…

Many times after I was sexually abused, the perpetrator blamed me for it.  It seemed to be a way to make them feel better about hurting me – a type of victim blaming for simply being vulnerable around them, for being who I was in their vicinity.  I was also blamed a lot for tempting men when nothing was happening, and all of that before I was even 8 years old.  To blame a child for the actions of adults is cruelty.

As an adult I found a different kind of cruelty that happened when I was genuinely interested in being sexual with both Cis and Trans men.  The men would often appear nervous at my enthusiasm, like they were assuming women and feminine people aren’t supposed to like sex, and so it they had to be tricked or forced into it.  How could men conquer me when I was willing and ready for them?  But many men don’t know what to do with that.  And after the nerves would come the nasty comments – I must be a dirty slut who will screw anyone, or I must be a sex worker only looking to make some quick money.  Some men cannot seem to be sexual without coercion, force and blame.  An assertive, sex-positive woman or feminine person terrifies them. And blimey, men have often made me pay a high price for their fear.

Cruelty is knowing you’re hurting someone vulnerable, who depends on you for their lives or livelihood.  This isn’t only where the victims are children, but the elderly, those with disabilities and sometimes even employees of the perpetrator.  Cruelty is humiliating someone until they believe the perpetrator’s words and actions are justified – that the victim deserves the pain, so fighting back isn’t even an option for them.

Cruelty is the act of torture.  Unlike the common depictions of torture in fiction, it is rarely about getting information.  Victims of torture will say anything to make the perpetrator stop inflicting pain, so any information gained can’t be trusted anyway.  Torture is not only done to prisoners of war either: it can be perpetrated by ordinary people in very strong positions of power.  Torture is done to break the wills of the victim so the perpetrator doesn’t have to do anything further to carry on the terror.

Cruelty is threatening to hurt someone or something even more vulnerable, and sometimes carrying out those threats, so the victim will fall in line.  Sometimes a perpetrator will eve encourage the victim to care about a pet, younger sibling, or even a doll, and then threaten to hurt that thing. I remember a few times where my little brother was asleep in the same room when my dad and his friend hurt me.  The only thing circling my head was, “I mustn’t wake the baby.”  It was all a form of leverage. 

Society can set up vulnerable people, making it harder to get help when they need it, and that in itself is a type of cruelty.  Men are supposed to be “too strong” to be sexually or physically assaulted, so if it happens then they are perceived as “weak”.  Women aren’t supposed to be able to physically or sexually assault others, so their victims are rarely believed.  Black women in particular are supposed to always be ‘resilient’ so they can shrug off the pain others inflict on them, and if they cannot then they’re silenced – the list goes on.  Victim blaming and victim denial are acts of cruelty because it hurts and shames people who have already survived a traumatic event.  Heaping pain upon more pain for the perpetrator’s pleasure and society’s reassurance is cruel in the extreme.

Repeat victims of S.A and C.S.A

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Trigger Warning: Sexual abuse, Sexual assault, Rape, child sexual abuse survivors

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Repeat victims of sexual abuse/assault are often left in an isolated place.  Few enough people (including medical staff) want to discuss it happening once. Even less want to acknowledge that it has happened multiple times.  I agonised for decades over the fact I’ve been sexually assaulted by several different people & groups over the course of my life.  It was only a little while ago that I heard so many survivors of child sexual abuse grow up conditioned to be compliant/not make noise/not kick up a fuss about things.  This conditioning often follows us into adulthood, where it is difficult to to judge other people’s intentions and our own safety.  We have learned to ignore our instincts, to not question others who behave inappropriately to us.  Other things like body language can get screwed up when growing up in with sexual abuse.  Body language is not a conscious thing for me, but other abusive people pick up on my wish to not be seen, and my ability to shrink myself so I’m less of a target.  These are all things I did to survive as a child.  I shouldn’t have had to do any of this, and we survivors should have grown up being protected and loved.  All of this isn’t to say that survivors will inevitably be assaulted again, but rather to say: if it’s happened to you many times, it’s still not your fault.  You can refuse to hold the guilt and shame.  You can be there for yourself, not matter how physically and emotionally isolated you are.  You can know that you are not alone.

I’m sending you all my love in your journey to heal.

The following articles go into this in more details: https://tinyurl.com/t3ay5ex

And this one by the World Health Organisation has lots of further links

 

 

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TW: Sexual Assault, Biphobia

Long-term Victim Blaming & why it sucks especially bad for Bisexual women.

This post refers explicitly to women and femmes who have been victim to sexual violence from men.  There are some very different things male & masculine victims have to deal with, when violence comes from other genders.  Also women and femmes who are victims of violence from other women, deal with even less understood/talked about effects.

Most people are aware of victim blaming that comes up shortly after a traumatic event where sexual violence is reported.

“What was she wearing?”
“Why didn’t she fight back?”
“Why did she leave it so long to report it?”
“Why was she so quick to report it?  She must be doing it for attention/money.”
“She must have led him on.”

All of these things are hurtful, damaging and designed to put the blame on victims, and deter other victims (regardless of gender) from coming forward.  But what is not often considered or spoken of, is the effect of long-term victim blaming.

“She said she was raped, but she’s out there going to clubs!”
“Her boyfriend’s in prison for attacking her, but look at her kissing someone else!”
“How can she be so happy, after what she said happened?  She must be a liar!”
“She ruined his life by reporting him for sexual assault!  Now she’s always smiling in photos!”

The above examples all reinforce a nasty myth: once something bad (sexually) happens to a woman, she must remain in mourning for the rest of her life.  No smiles, no sex, no new relationships (especially not lesbian or bisexual ones).  It also plays into the myth of the ‘Almighty Dick of Power.’ And of how it can affect you permanently.  This is the same myth that states “One dick can turn a queer woman straight!”

The truly sad thing is, many women believe these myths too.
“How can you go out to a party/Wear that short dress/Talk about positive sex?  Do you want to be assaulted again?”

And when these women are lesbians, it sometimes colours their view of bisexual women and other lesbians who have been raped/sexually assaulted too.  The “Almighty Dick” means that if you’ve been with one man, consensual or not, you’re tainted for life.  The Almighty Dick is partnered with the Gold Star Lesbian.

Bisexual women have higher rates of sexual assault than either straight women or lesbians. See Bisexuality Report 2011, Open University.  https://bisexualresearch.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/the-bisexualityreport.pdf But when long-term victim blaming is aimed at us, we have few places to turn to.  Racism, Fatphobia and Disability definitely makes things worse, as respectability politics comes into play as well.

As a bisexual femme, and survivor of multiple rapes and 20 years of sexual abuse, I implore EVERYONE to think before they say hurtful things like the above.  I still have nightmares & flashbacks to awful things that happened to me, both as a child and an adult.  Biphobia is toxic, just as victim blaming is toxic.  If I have fun or wear a short dress, it doesn’t mean all the hurt has gone away.  It doesn’t mean I was lying or exaggerating about my experiences.  You have the power to make the world less shit for me.  For God’s sake, do the right thing.