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A note on victim blaming


By Colleen Leahy





Looking back a month or so later, I became extremely disturbed by this casual exchange.

Our conversation missed the crux of the issue, which is that the Lauren Spierer tragedy even happened in the first place.

This represents a heartbreaking failure on the part of the community to prevent situations like this from happening.

Furthermore, it’s obvious each of us is responsible for the decisions we make, but it is warped and dangerous logic to imply we are in any way responsible for the actions of others or harm that others do to us.

There needs to be a fundamental change in our current dialogue about abduction and other assault crimes.

The conversation shouldn’t revolve around the questions we’ve all heard: “Why was he/she alone? Why did she/he leave her friends and wander off? Why did she leave with that guy? How much did he/she drink? Did he/she have a drug problem?”

The conversation needs to focus on far more poignant and relevant questions: “Where were his/her friends? Why wasn’t anyone watching out for him/her? Why hasn’t the perpetrator been found? What is happening in our community and culture at large that makes it acceptable for us to allow something like this to happen?”

Those are the questions we need to be asking because, frankly, the first set of questions engages in the vile and regressive act of blaming the victim for the transgression committed against him or her.

Let’s instead question the motives of the culprit.

We must work together as a community to prevent these things from happening but not through programs that emphasize preventative safety measure.

If programs that stress not going out alone and not drinking excessively really prevented assault crimes, then we wouldn’t still be having this discussion.

These individuals know what they’re doing and are able to get away with it.

Our current dialogue of rape is not only unsuccessful for preventing assault but facilitates it by taking the pressure off the most important people in this equation: the culprits.

Victims do not have motives to be victimized. No one wants to be a victim.

However, the current mainstream language we have to discuss abduction, assault, rape and abuse fixates on the victim’s behavior.

We need to work toward a more positive, supportive and community-driven discussion about preventing abduction, sexual assault, rape and other crimes.

­— ccleahy@indiana.edu

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