Victim Blaming

Article

May 28, 2022

Victim blaming is a phenomenon where the victim of a crime, accident or any type of violence is held fully or partially responsible for a violation or misfortune committed against her. Typically, victim blaming takes the form of racist, sexist, and classist statements. However, this position can exist independently of such types of intolerance, and in some countries even has at least a semi-official character. From the point of view of social psychology, blaming the victim is a consequence of faith in a just world. Within the framework of victimology, blaming the victim is a methodological prerequisite for the positivist approach adopted, among other things, in post-Soviet victimology. In foreign victimology, this approach is opposed by an approach based on the protection of the victim.

Psychology of blaming the victim

From the point of view of social psychology, blaming the victim is based on the so-called belief in a just world. Faith in a just world is a cognitive distortion in which a person believes that any action causes natural and predictable consequences. For such a person, the thought that misfortune can happen to someone completely by accident is unbearable. As the discoverer of the phenomenon of belief in a just world, Melvin Lerner, showed, in order to avoid admitting the fallacy of their ideas about a just world order, people reinterpret an unjust event, associating it with the behavior or properties of the victim, and thereby both blame and belittle her. A reluctance to identify with the victim, with those who really suffer, and admiration for those who prevail and appear victorious, also underlie the judgment of victim guilt.

Re-victimization

Re-victimization is the retraumatization of the victim of violence, expressed in the reaction of individuals or institutions. Victim blaming is a form of re-victimization. Other possible forms of it are, in particular, the inappropriate behavior of others after violence, incorrect statements by medical workers or other people with whom the victim is in contact.