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Later on, I moved to work in child sexual abuse and exploitation. I remember thinking that there must be much less victim blaming within children’s services – especially as so many children being sexually abused and exploited are under the age of consent and could not possibly be held responsible for anything at all. Every day, I was proven wrong.
Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book by Jessica Taylo
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It was quickly apparent that even children who were being abused and exploited by adult men were being told to change something about themselves, to take responsibility and to take the blame for being raped and harmed. Talking to teenage girls who are convinced that they were sexually exploited is because, ‘I keep putting myself at risk’, is frankly soul destroying.
When women and girls have built up the courage to tell someone they had been raped or abused, the experience of being blamed or held responsible had stayed with them for years. It had changed the way they saw themselves. No matter how many times I heard it, I never became desensitized to hearing the impact of victim blaming on women and girls.
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I decided to undertake a PhD which sought to explore the psychology underpinning the apparent need we have for blaming women and girls for the male violence committed against them. I wondered why we did this, how we came to these perspectives, where these biases came from and how this was all impacting women, girls – and the support they receive when they do disclose.
All my PhD research is contained within this book, in addition to other research projects I have undertaken in the last 10 years. I have written it to be accessible to as many people as possible and I have refrained from writing a traditional academic textbook based on my findings. However, I feel strongly that this book has brought together important and illuminating evidence of the way.
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We blame women and girls in every way possible – and we do it globally and consistently. Victim blaming can sound like lots of different things. Sometimes it sounds like misogyny, ‘She went out looking like a slut, so it’s no wonder she was raped’. Sometimes it sounds like logic, ‘Women should keep themselves safe, they don’t leave the house without locking the door in case they are burgled.
So why is this any different?’ Sometimes victim blaming can sound like concern or compassion, ‘I hope she will be okay, and she learns from her mistakes and doesn’t put herself in that situation again’. Victim blaming can even sound like ideology, religion or beliefs about justice and fairness, ‘If this happened to her.
She must have done something to deserve it’ or ‘Life has a way of rewarding or punishing you for how you live your life – what goes around comes around.’ Victim blaming is so diverse that it can also sound like personal safety advice that impedes on women and girls’ lives, ‘If you are going out tonight, remember not to leave your friends or drink too much. Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book
Always drink responsibly to protect yourself from sexual assault.’ How people victim blame women and girls for sexual violence varies from person to person, and from authority to authority. Often, victim blaming is a mixture of misogyny, bias, stereotypes, attribution error, and beliefs about safety and justice. Arguably, this could be why it is so hard to tackle and sometimes hard to recognise.
The maximum score any participant could achieve from consistently and totally blaming the woman for every act of sexual violence was 24. 29% of participants blamed the woman, with the majority of participants assigning little blame to women in these scenarios. There were a small number of participants with scores of 20 and 21, out of a total of 24.
Indicating that they blamed the woman wholly or partially in every scenario on this subscale. Generally, however, items on this subscale saw much lower levels of blame than subscale 1 and tended to contain more stranger attacks, violent rapes and stereotypical examples of assault. All items describe a situation in which women may be asked ‘what did you expect to happen?’ Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book
Or would be questioned about why they were in a risky or dangerous situation or environment alone. The three items that resulted in the most blame of women despite the stereotypical attacks were all items in which the woman was described negatively as having no class, cheating on her partner or doing nothing to stop the assaults.
A drop from a half to a third could be presented as a significant decrease in acceptance from the eighties and Vonderhaar & Carmody (2015) have suggested that such a drop is due to an increase in education and an increase in awareness of rape and sexual assault. However, in a study in which undergraduate students gave feedback on the IRMAS.
items and suggested changes to update the items and make them more realistic, McMahon and Farmer (2011) found that 53% of the students agreed that the actions of the woman led to her being raped. In the UK, The Fawcett Society (2017) found that 34% of women and 38% of men agreed that women are at least partially to blame for rape. Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book
When a number of rape myths come together (such as the victim should have injuries, the victim was attacked by a stranger, the victim did not do anything to cause the assault, the victim was not drunk and was dressed modestly, the victim immediately reported the incident) they form a false stereotypical rape against which the general public, authorities and victims themselves.
Compare their experiences (Kahn, Mathie, & Torgler, 1994; Ryan, 1988; Sleath, 2011). When a rape or sexual assault experience falls outside of this stereotypical rape, it can lead to the victim being blamed or not believed at all. In fact, the greater the stereotypical belief of the observer, the more responsibility attributed to the victim and less responsibility perpetrator (Koppelaar, Lange, & van de Velde, 1997).
This effect is also seen in women who have been subjected to rape, who use the same set of rape stereotypes to compare their own experiences to make a decision about whether to report (Campbell et al., 2011; Mont et al., 2003). Evidence suggests that rape myths operate in different ways for different people. Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book Download
Men tend to use rape myths to excuse or minimise sexual violence, but women tend to use rape myths to deny their personal vulnerability (Heath et al., 2011; Sleath, 2011). Whilst many rape myths include direct victim blaming about the appearance, behaviour or character of the victim – others are based on broader attitudes to sexual violence.
Attitudes towards women as a class of people or attitudes and beliefs that excuse or sympathise with the perpetrator (Payne et al., 1999; Sleath, 2011). Therefore, not all rape myths are related to blaming women for rape. However, it is understood that there are also factors at the individual level (such as their values, beliefs and perceptions of rape, sexual assault and gender.
That are influenced by macrosystem level factors like rape culture, sexism, porn culture, rape myths and so on. This chapter provides evidence for considerable interaction between higher-level factors and individual factors. I will therefore acknowledge that the individual factors in victim blaming and self-blame may appear to sit with the individual but rarely arise in a vacuum. Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book Download
Within that individual and are likely to have originated from society or other external pressures and social norms. This section is split into some of the most common individual level factors that were found to be discussed in the literature on victim blaming and selfblame. However, it would be impossible to cover them all in the depth they deserve.
And there are certain factors that lack the level of interest that other individual factors have received, resulting in little empirical research findings and conclusions. As a brief overview, White (1984) identified just some of the variables that have been shown to impact on the way the woman and the rape is perceived and the way that the woman also perceives the rape experience.
These variables included the types of behaviours of the woman during the sexual assault or rape, the personal details of the woman such as her age, her class, her life, her marital status, her personality, whether she knew the perpetrator of the rape or sexual assault before it occurred, when and how (or whether) she reported the rape to the police and how they then responded to her. Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book Download
White (1984) therefore argued that one of these, some of these and/or all of these factors can influence the way the woman and the rape is perceived by external people and can also have an effect on the way the woman understands what happened to her. Depending on the values, beliefs and messages she has absorbed throughout her life, this could lead to her blaming herself.
The second core assumption in CSE practice is that girls with specific vulnerabilities are more likely to be sexually abused than other girls with little or no vulnerabilities. This assumption is not specific to CSE, however, and I have discussed in other chapters the way in which psychological research seeks to discover the vulnerabilities of the woman that make rape, sexual abuse and domestic abuse more likely.
Despite the ongoing search for ‘vulnerabilities’ that lead to sexual violence, findings are highly contested and variable (Eaton & Holmes, 2017; Brown et al., 2016). When it comes to child sexual exploitation, for example, there is very little evidence that any ‘vulnerabilities’ are linked to a higher chance of being sexually exploited (Brown et al., 2016). Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book Free
To begin, it is important to define what is meant by ‘vulnerabilities to CSE’. Society tends to perceive children as inherently vulnerable, due to being children (James & Prout, 1997), however, if we did truly see all children as vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation, there would not be specific lists of vulnerabilities that children are scored and measured against.
Lists of vulnerabilities to CSE are widely used in practice, with many lists of vulnerabilities attached to the previously discussed CSE risk toolkit. The lists of vulnerabilities vary widely from toolkit to toolkit and have not been validated or evaluated to show causation or correlation yet (Brown et al., 2016;2017).
Vulnerabilities include having a learning disability, being a looked after child and witnessing domestic abuse at home. Generally, the lists of vulnerabilities include adverse experiences from throughout the lifespan of the child, however, some are vaguer and include items such as moving to secondary school, illness of a family member, a change in appearance or fashion and having low self-esteem. Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book Free
It is also possible that the professionals construct women as passive to selfblame and victim blaming erroneously, and that the resistance they describe to alternatives to self-blame is also present in self-blame, but they assume that the woman is passive due to benevolent sexism or because they have constructed the woman as vulnerable.
It is also of interest that the woman was only constructed as resistant, difficult or challenging when she was rejecting the narratives or challenges presented by the professional, but in all other terms, she was positioned as vulnerable and powerless. This possible explanation of the dichotomy could link to the frequently used interpretative repertoire about women being unable to deconstruct self-blame.
And victim blaming narratives due to being abused in childhood. A lot of the times this was used in talk, the participant appeared to be assuming that the reason women may struggle to challenge self-blame is because she must have been abused in childhood which causes them to be powerless to the belief that they are to blame. Why Women Are Blamed For Everything PDF Book Free
This may present a circular discourse in which women are constructed as abused because they were powerless, and then powerless because they were abused. This finding could also relate to the way professionals in sexual violence are trained and to the research which suggests that women abused in childhood are more likely to blame themselves.
And are more likely to be continually revictimized in adulthood (Mason et al., 2008; Messman-Moore and Long, 2003). Again, the origins of the interpretative repertoire used by professionals is unclear but may be representative of several associated factors. . Even when professionals talked about how harmful the support network had been towards the woman, they still described them as being the most important ‘safety net’ a woman has.