Jan24MonJanuary 24, 2022
Victims often stay silent about their abuse. They may fear they will not be believed, or fear further abuse from the offender. Too often we hear that the blame for the abuse is placed on the victim rather than the offender.
Statements like these fall under the term victim-blaming:
We want to strongly caution you against approaching any reports or concerns of abuse from that perspective. Instead, we encourage you to appoint an individual to be responsible for receiving reports that will advocate for transparency and truth and also to be an advocate for the victim.
On occasion, allegations of abuse may be found to be false. It is always our hope that that is the case. However, most allegations of abuse are found to be true, or there is some element of truth to them. It is always best to be seen as a safe person receiving the report and responding with care, empathy, and willingness to listen and respond.
Victim blaming is a devaluing act that occurs when the victim(s) of a crime or an accident is held responsible — in whole or in part — for the crimes that have been committed against them. Another way to understand this is that victim-blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. The study of victimology seeks to mitigate the prejudice against victims, and the perception that victims are in any way responsible for the actions of offenders.
When it comes to children or youth, they are never to blame for the abuse that robs them of their innocence. They are not at an age that they can make decisions regarding sexual acts or behaviour directed their way by an adult or someone in authority or control. They may be flattered by the attention, but that does not mean they are to blame.
There is also a greater understanding now of the influence of individuals in a position of power, influence, authority, and control. For this reason we recommend that all staff, volunteers and leaders sign a Code of Conduct spelling out their duty of care and the expectations for their interaction with those they care for.
We caution you against victim-blaming as it perpetuates the cycle of violence. Survivors who internalize blame tend to feel deep shame. They hold themselves accountable for their abuse and are less likely to report it. This is particularly true for people who come from marginalized populations.
Victim-blaming is often associated with psychological and spiritual abuse.
Therefore, we encourage you to: