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Campaign to end victim blaming launched

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stop victim blamingHighlighting and addressing the ‘blame culture’ surrounding violence against women and girls.

Earlier this year The Everyday Victim Blaming network launched its campaign to confront and challenge the constant victim blaming in the media of victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

Victim blaming forces survivors of violence – mental, emotional and sexual – to take responsibility for the abuses perpetrated against them and allows perpetrators to refer to an infrastructure that shields them from blame and therefore accountability.

The group aims to compile observations and comments submitted by individuals, professional bodies and organisations working with victims of violence to create a profile of victim blaming in the media and in society at large.

Everyday Victim Blaming is aware that in order to eradicate putting the onus on victim to prevent the abuse rather than perpetrator from committing it a cultural shift must occur.

And they are only too aware that societal change is not easy, but it does happens.

With persistence and dogged determination, they say, they can succeed.

Use of language such as ‘provoked’, ‘troubled relationship’, ‘driven to it’ and ‘extenuating circumstances’, or referring to victims as drunk or intoxicated, or to violent murders as ‘isolated incidents’ perpetuates the myth that women and children who are victims of violence are complicit in the abuses committed against them.

Victims are not responsible for the choices that are made by those that abuse them.

The only people responsible for violence and abuse are violent abusers.

Submissions on the website are varied and wide ranging.

They including identifying storylines and characterisations in television programmes that contribute to a culture of victim blaming.

One recent concern was a Hollyoaks storyline about a single mother who was assaulted and who was blamed for her young child’s illness in her absence.

Devastating instances of blame in personal situations are hosted also by the website.

A young woman who was sexually assaulted by a friend was described by her boyfriend as ‘trying it on’, that she had ‘messed up’ and that she was naive not to have foreseen the attack.

Everyday Victim Blaming responds to these submissions with the all-important ‘we believe you’, by reinforcing the fact that the sole blame for assault lies with the perpetrators and by referring victims to help.

Submissions of language that aggravate victim blaming are greatly encouraged, and the network presses for the elimination of such terms as ‘alleged’,’ date rape’ and ‘private matter’.

Part of the campaign and the website looks at victim blaming within and as a result of legal justice systems.

One cases of acute alarm is that of Norwegian woman Marte Dalelv, raped while on a business trip in Dubai this year.

She was sentenced to 16 months in prison for ‘crimes’ that include a charge of sex outside of marriage after she reported the assault to the authorities there. She was also fired by her employer.

In the UK a court case involving a gang in Oxford that kidnapped and raped girls, the young victims were accused of consenting to the assault and of lying.

Victim blaming discourages victims from discussing abuse and seeking help, and directly affects their mental wellbeing and esteem.

It is imperative that it is stopped.

If you wish to submit an opinion on victim blaming, a personal story, identify a miscarriage of justice or simply show your support for the campaign, click here.

You can also follow the campaign and contribute at the official twitter page.

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