First of all, I'd like to say the word, 'victim' does not sit well with me. I tend to think victimhood is a state of mind which can be overcome even after experiencing the worst atrocities, and I have seen and read many accounts of people being horribly tortured and refusing to view themselves as victims, all the same. For the purpose of this post though, the concept of victim, is that of a person who has experienced an unenviable outcome which is mostly or wholly not of their planning or intention.
Have you ever had a conversation with a four year old which went something like this.
'Honey, you can't run off at the shops like that! What if you got lost or someone tried to take you home with them and we couldn't find you?'
'I'd karate chop them in the head until they were dead!'
A four year old will always have an answer for how a bad thing could never happen to them, don't they? No matter what scenario you pose for them, they will counter it with their super-human strength and ability to outwit several people who are bigger and more world wise than themselves. Come to think of it ten year olds do this, too.
A day or so ago, I read this article about a woman who found herself homeless. She never thought it would happen to her. She thought homeless people were homeless because they made bad choices and/or suffered addiction.
She was a bit like the four year old whose plan was to overwhelm their grown assailant with a karate chop.
Recently, I have found myself trying to describe the difficult position my husband and I find ourselves in at the moment, and while the vast majority of people have been sympathetic and supportive - people who know us and speak with us frequently, either in person or on social media. There have been people who have made sport of extrapolating our entire personalities and traits from the few words they find written on this blog.
These people who have oversimplified our situation and criticised our poor choices have upset me a fair bit. Then this morning, when it happened again, I had an epiphany... This is all 'blaming the victim', and the psychology behind blaming the victim is fear.
There are two base emotions in life. Love and fear. From these base emotions emerge a variety of other emotions. From love you have compassion, support, contentment and optimism. From fear you have despising, contempt, judgement and a strong sense of 'that would never happen to me!'
Yep, the psychology of blaming the victim is based in the fear of not having control. If you can blame the victim, if you can say, 'That person is an idiot who made stupid choices.' Then you can reassure yourself that the same situation will never happen to you, because you are wiser, you are more diligent, you are more resourceful, you are smarter, you are stronger, you are better than that.
People who blame the victim don't like to acknowledge that sometimes other people around the victim act unpredictably and outrageously. They do things like offer the victim a job because the victim has already proven they can do the job and then rescind the offer because the victim is honest and reports an underlying condition that does not affect their ability to work.
People do things like not taking no for an answer.
People do things like take money from the Government to employ a person with a disability, then after the person has worked for them for a month, refuse to pay them their due wage until forced to do so by the Australia Taxation Office six months later.
Lots of people are reasonable and work within loosely defined social norms. These people are predictable and as good as their word. Unfortunately, not all people are like this. Sometimes the only thing you can blame the victim for is not having an omnipotent ability for predicting outrageous behaviour.
If it makes you feel safer, blame the victim. Just know, it can happen to you, too.