25 Sep Challenging Victim-Blaming
Dear Friends of WTLC,
Last week, Shannan Watts, who was 15 weeks pregnant and her two daughters, Bella (age 4), and Celeste (age 3), were reported missing. The following day, Shannan’s husband Chris Watts gave an emotional interview in front of their home in which he begged for his pregnant wife and daughters’ safe return. It turns out that the local authorities had arrested Chris and charged him with murdering them.
When I first heard this news, I was upset as this was another situation of domestic violence with a tragic ending. I decided to follow this story a little more and started to read various online news sites. What made me continue to be upset is some of the comments I have seen left by other readers. The two comments that stood out were:
“…I wonder what she did to make him snap…”, and “…there’s a noticeable red mark on his neck, possibly from the wife. I think she attacked him first…”
This is a classic textbook example of victim-blaming and the comments above are a huge reminder that victim-blaming remains to be a tenacious problem. It’s a problem because it allows us to continue to marginalize the survivor, minimizes the abusive act, and makes people less likely to come forward and report what has happened to them. In order for us to truly break the cycle of violence, we must all work together and help prevent ourselves and others from victim-blaming. Let’s commit to challenging victim-blaming statements when we hear them and asking ourselves: How would I feel in that survivor’s place?