Victim Blaming A Hindrance In Reporting Crimes

Victim Blaming A Hindrance In Reporting Crimes

The Victim Services Division says victim blaming can affect the wider society by crippling a victim’s ability to report a crime.

Victim blaming involves holding the victim of a crime completely or partially at fault for the wrongdoing of the offender.

Programme Manager at the Victim Services Division, Dionne Dawn Binns, speaking in a recent interview with JIS News, said victim blaming can first result in increased fear and unnecessary suffering for victims.

“In terms of the impact of victim blaming, what we see is that there is great impact on their emotional state which tends to be mostly psycho-social in nature. For instance, persons who experience victim blaming tend to feel ashamed. When they begin to internalise what they are experiencing from victim blaming, they start to blame themselves. They feel more guilt and it heightens their sense of fear, because they start to say, ‘then if I was doing something wrong, then this thing can happen to me again or something worse can happen to me’,” Mrs. Binns said.

Victim blaming can also heighten the state of confusion and helplessness for some victims.

“Persons may become depressed and feel even more vulnerable because they begin to think that ‘Oh well, there is nothing I can do to prevent this thing from happening’. In some of our worst cases, some may begin to have thoughts of suicide, because of the negative impact it has on them,” she said.

Victims may also experience post-traumatic stress as a result of victim blaming, and some may turn to substance abuse to cope.

The ripple effect of victim blaming can then extend to the wider society.

“Because of the increased fear, unnecessary suffering, ridicule and humiliation that they may feel, sometimes these persons don’t even want to bother to go through the process. This results in zero crimes getting reported and zero perpetrators being prosecuted,” Mrs. Binns explained.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Binns said victim blaming has been found to be more prevalent in crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Women are the predominant sex who would experience victim blaming. It is not something that is documented in terms of instances of victim blaming. However, what we find is that throughout providing the support that we do in terms of counselling and psychosocial support, the anecdotal responses and reports that we would get from the victim that we serve would indicate the level of victim blaming that they experience,” Mrs. Binns added.

The International Journal for Crime and Justice Article, Invalidation: A Neglected Dimension of Gender‐based Violence (GBV) and Inequality by Michael Salter, highlights how invalidation assigns the responsibility of gender-based violence to victims.

“The social reception to girls and women’s testimony of gender-based violence is characterised by patterns of disbelief and victim blaming… .  Invalidation is a powerful tool in the perpetuation of gendered inequality that can be drawn on strategically by men, in order to make GBV possible and to assign the responsibility for GBV and its psychological harms to girls and women,” the article stated.

To access victim services, persons can call the Victim Service Division via their toll-free number 888-VICTIMS- (842-8467). Other numbers are 876-946-0663 and (Digicel) 876-618-3620.


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