6 Examples of Victim-Blaming

Exploring how people often blame victims for being bullied

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When bullying occurs, people often place the blame on the shoulders of the victim. Most of the time, they falsely believe that if the victim of bullying were somehow different, then bullying wouldn’t happen. They might even ask the victim: "What did you do to cause it?" But bullying is never the target's fault. They do not need to change or be different in some way to avoid being bullied. Change is always the bully's responsibility.

 

And while it is true that there are some things that can help deter bullying like developing social skills and building self-esteem, the truth is that anyone can become a victim of bullying. There are a number of reasons why bullies target others, but none of those reasons are the victim’s fault. The responsibility for bullying always belongs to the bully. Yet many people still engage in victim blaming and assert that the victim brought about the bullying in some way.

To keep from blaming the victim for a bullying incident, familiarize yourself with the top six ways that people blame victims for bullying. Make sure you avoid believing these myths about about victims. 

“He deserves it.” Many times, when people hear that someone has been bullied, they have trouble empathizing with what the victim experienced, especially if the victim has negative or annoying personality traits. Despite whether victims are conceited, rude, inconsiderate or selfish, no one deserves to be bullied.

This mindset only condones bullying behaviors.

“He should change.” Many times people will point out what is wrong with the victim rather than recognizing that the real problem lies with the bully and his choices. People often find it easier to tell a victim how he should change in order to avoid being bullied than to place the responsibility on the bully.

While there are certain life skills that are important for victims of bullying to learn like resilience, perseverance and assertiveness, lacking these skills are not a reason to excuse the bullying. Instead, focus on teaching bullies how to take responsibility for their actions.

“He caused it or brought it on himself.” Many people believe it is good for a bully to get a “taste of his own medicine.” But this type of attitude only keeps the cycle of bullying going. For example, bully-victims are caught in this vicious cycle. They are consistently bullied and rather than dealing with the situation in a healthy way, they lash out by bullying others. Instead, they need to learn to handle bullying in a healthy way. They also need to be held responsible for any choices they make to bully others. And most importantly, they need help healing from the consequences of bullying they have experienced. But the fact that they have been bullied should never excuse their choices to bully others. Revenge is never a good option.

“He should have known better.” This mindset is equivalent to the thinking that “if he hadn’t gone for a walk alone none of this would have happened.” But the fact is that people should have the freedom to move about in the world without fear of being attacked or bullied. Blaming a victim for being bullied while alone in a locker room, bathroom or deserted hallway, does not address the bigger issue of bullying. True, it is important to avoid bullying hot spots, but this does not excuse the bully's choice to target someone.

“He didn’t fight back.” Many people will blame a victim of physical bullying for the pain and suffering he endures because he did nothing to defend himself. This type of thinking again excuses the bully’s behavior. Likewise, people will also blame the victim if he defends himself, reducing the bullying incident to a fight instead of seeing it for what it really is – a bully attacking another person and that person defending himself.

“He is too sensitive.” This statement is a classic victim-blaming statement. When people make comments like this, they are excusing the bully's taunts and teases by indicating that there is defect in the victim. What’s more, this is a common bullying phrase that implies that the victim's reaction is not normal or natural. This is probably the worst possible thing that someone could say about a victim of bullying because it minimizes what he experienced.

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