Is to Blame The Biggest Tool in The Abuser’s Toolbox?
Over more than 25 years of teaching self-defence and violence prevention, I have sadly had far too many hard-to-hear discussions of abuse with both women and men. Unfortunately, the one common theme in every one of them has been to use the strategy of blaming their victims.
The blame almost always begins with the person who has been abused physically, sexually, and verbally—blaming not the abuser or abusers but themself.
Questions come up, just to name a few.
What did I do that caused this?
Why did I stay?
How did I not see the warning signs?
Why does no one believe me?
Possibly, the biggest tool in the abuser’s toolbox is to blame. The strategy may precede the abuse, be during, immediately after, when the survivor has dared to come forward years later, or all of the above.
The moment the blame begins, it accomplishes many things, including the survivor turning the focus on themselves and questioning what they did wrong to contribute to the abuse. As difficult as dealing with one abuser, I have also sadly heard of some women who have experienced sexual assault at the hands of more than one family member.
Then pile on top of that, when one has the strength to tell another family member of the abuse, they also blame, or similar to blaming, is to deny it could have happened. Then the blame may reflect with comments like, “You can’t make this public.” “How will it make the family look?” “Stop thinking of yourself, and feel for the family.” “Give it time; you will be fine.”
What do all these blamers have in common? First, to take the focus off of those who are responsible. Understand that the perpetrators will rarely be accountable for their actions and take any responsibility.
Once a person blames you, whether they are the abuser or a denier of the abuse, we can do little to change their minds. So help yourself foremost and seek someone who will listen, not judge.
It might sound simplistic, but please understand the second one blames you, blame is a strategy in their toolbox to avoid taking responsibility. It is frustrating, maddening, and tragic how effective blaming can be.
Still, hopefully, if one can identify they were targeted, manipulated, forced, and blamed without ANY RESPONSIBILITY for their abuse, they may be able to seek the help I encourage them to get as soon as possible.