We’ve probably all heard friends and family say things like these before. Maybe you’ve even said one of the statements:
“She went back, so now it’s on her.”
“I wonder what he did to provoke it?”
“She knew he had a short fuse when they got married.”
Speak out when you hear someone using victim-blaming language. Chances are they don’t know they’re doing it. You can say something like “Did you know the words we choose sometimes blame victims?” Then let explain how.
Talking about the power and control associated with intimate partner abuse is a good place to start.Your discussion might address how the physical, emotional, and financial violence make it very difficult for someone to leave. Remind others that threats of retaliation can be scary, and sometimes survivors return to a life shared with their abusers to stay alive.
Re-framing common questions is another effective way to address victim-blaming. Instead of asking “Why do they stay?” consider asking questions like, “I wonder what barriers they face to leaving?” or “Let’s talk about why the abuser isn’t being held accountable.”
Start a conversation about word choice. Help someone understand how language affects perspective, and how the wrong language can be dangerous.