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Don’t blame victims, but do hold them accountable

This week events in my life have and people I encountered got me thinking about the blaming of victims. Coincidentally, I discovered this quote from Attorney Wendy Murphy. She wrote this in a comment answering others who commented on her blog:

It doesn’t matter if Sandra Boss was a ‘gold-digger’ anymore than it matters that the mother of Michael Jackson’s latest victim ‘consented’ to her child being allowed to sleep at Jackson’s home. It’s equally wrong to rape a child – even if the victim makes it easier on the criminal to commit the crime because she’s ill, or dumb, or uneducated, etc. There’s no such thing as a criminal being ‘partly guilty’. There’s only guilty – or not guilty.

Victims can make bad decisions that we might think of as increasing their risk of being victimized – but the CRIMINAL law sees these things as vulnerabilities – not liabilities – because we don’t want criminals taking advantage of certain ‘types’ of people (even selfish ones). Civil tort cases are treated differently – where responsibility can be distributed among the parties. A crime victim is not a ‘party’ to the criminal case. So, the fact that a person might not protect him or herself well is never an excuse for ANOTHER PERSON’S crime – or a reason to give a harm-doer a discount. If it were – the law would effectively be indulging the idea that certain ‘types’ of people deserve to be victimized (or – put another way – certain ‘types’ deserve better protection from violence). Victims and perpetrators do not stand on equal moral footing.

Perpetrators are charged with crime while victims are presumed by the charge to have suffered harm. Because victims have not even been accused of criminal harm, they are not parties to the criminal case, and are not being judged on issues of guilt and responsibility. This reflects the principle that whether you’re a nun or a homeless prostitute – you are seen as equal in the eyes of the criminal law when you are injured by crime. For all these reasons, it is irrelevant whether Sandra Boss was marrying the name rather than the man – etc – and it is irrelevant whether Stephen Fagan’s wife had ‘issues’. No person ‘deserves’ to be victimized by violence – and unless we fiercely refuse to weigh the moral behavior of the victim in determining the guilt of the accused, we cannot possibly respect this core principle.

I agree with what Attny. Murphy says here. But I want to add that it is important for those who have had encounters with psychopaths to take stock of the experience and to question “Why me?” Asking then answering that question promotes healing, allows for personal growth and gives a person the opportunity to forgive him/herself for any mistakes that contributed to the psychopathic life disaster. Taking responsibility is empowering because it acknowledges the real control we have over the choices we make.

Today one of my friends wrote this to me, ”I fully accept that MY CHOICES which I made were the choices that hurt me, hurt others, etc. Actually, some of those choices I knew at the time were probably not “ideal” or “right” but I did them anyway, and of course they blew up in my face.”

I’ll say publicly to this friend, “I understand and believe you can make better choices/decisions in the future.” Because I believe it for you, I can also believe it for myself.

The degree to which we are able to extend our understanding to another’s mistakes determines how we accept our own. We don’t need to deny or excuse our own or another victim’s mistakes. We should instead hold each other accountable to do the real soul searching and to make better choices in the future.



63 Comments on "Don’t blame victims, but do hold them accountable"

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  1. blondegirlnyc says:

    I will never blame the victim the first time something happens BUT if the victim takes the abuser/psyco back after the first offense then they have NO ONE else to blame but themself.



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  2. banana says:

    I just recently spoke to my STBXP’s ex GF before me. She had slept with him on occasions (while we were engaged) where I left town to visit my parents.

    I flip flop between hating her for what she did and know that she too was a victim.

    She said she wanted me to know but was afraid if what he’d do if she told me, and hoped that if he kept it up he’d get caught.

    Yes. there were many red flags before our marriage, but denial is an amazing thing.
    We think we are avoiding the hurt when we deny, but we are only postponing the inevitable.



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  3. bopeep says:

    Dear All,
    I cant wait to get that book..Mans Search for Meaning..I think I need that to put my situation in perspective. I know what it is like to be blamed for being the victim. I have lost friends family ect…they dont want to hear my tale of woe, and say also…Why dont you just leave! I am actually moving in with the S because he financially ruined me {of course he blames me}. You sometimes dont know your being taken until its too late. So my children and I will move in while I save for plan B. That is my only option other than a shelter…which is so hard to find . At least because of the Madoff situation in the news…I can sort of explain and compare my situation of how I wasnt an idiot…that this can happen to ANYONE. The S shows you proof of other peoples sucess in letting him run your business….that he will lead you down the path of sucess{even brought family members into his confirmation of the “great ” things he could do } Its like a train you dont see coming…then its too late. So at least we will have a roof over our head until I can gather up $$ to get out. Through this process Ive learned to let my mother go…she has been a toxic part of my life and of course has not helped me financially one bit to get me out…she just blames me! This site is a blessing…I was shocked to know how many others of us there are! Thank you all…I am slowly getting empowered. Bopeep



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  4. bunny says:

    I think I understand your point, but where does that leave children of psycopaths, the ones who have been brutalized since birth?



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  5. bunny says:

    “This is a game to the sociopath, a game that he has practiced all his life. A new victim is taken completely off-guard by this. A new victim does not have the experience to counter the expert moves of the seasoned sociopath. It is like expecting an average person to be able to play in the NBA or the NFL with no prior experience in sports and no training.”

    I agree



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  6. Tilly says:

    blondegirlnyc:
    I hope one day you experience why the victim “goes back” to the abuser. Then you will realise what a heartless thing it is to say on this site.



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  7. bunny says:

    Someone I knew used to always boast about what a good driver they were. She was always full of bravado, always drove european sportscars, and drove fast. This was over 40 years ago.

    One day she killed a kid who wandered out onto the road. It was an accident.

    She was very anxious before the inquest, but afterwards she didn’t give the whole thing a second thought and went back to bragging to everyone how she drove sports cars and was such a superb and capable driver.

    Not once did she send a letter to the family whose kid she killed, not once did she send flowers nor show any remorse or any emotion at all about what she had done.

    Most normal people would have spent years blaming themselves over something like that – even if it wasn’t their fault. And not too many would continue to boast at every opportunity about what a superb driver they were after that.



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  8. OxDrover says:

    Bunny, apparently your “friend” was either a complete narcissist or was actually a psychopath, my guess is the former. In any case, she did not sound like someone with any conscience or empathy, and she obviously didn’t learn from her mistakes.

    As far as children who have been “brutalized” since birth—it so happens I have a friend who was raised by one of the most brutal psychopathic mothers I have been unfortunate enough to actually KNOW PERSONALLy. the woman had 4 children, one who was mentally retarded, so I won’t count the retarded one in my “score.” Of this womans three other children, one was just like her, but the two others, though brutally physically and emotionally abused both became excellent people who were NOT abusers. They escaped from home as soon as they could, one at 15, the other at 16, educated themselves, went to work and became the kind of people I am proud to call friends!

    I think when we reach the “age of accountability” where we can see and learn the “right from wrong” and since we are not raised totally in isolation, but do go to school, play with other children from other families we are at least somewhat exposed to the thinking of the greater society, so have some opportuinty to embrace or to refuse this way of looking at things.

    This is one reason that “cultists”–an example is “Tony Alamo” who is on trial in federal court in Arkansas as this is written for taking 9 year old girls across state lines for sex (this man alledgedly “married” girls as young as 8–one woman testified yesterday that she married him at age 8, and had sex with him at age 9)—keep their followers in ISOLATION as much as possible to keep them from being influenced by others.

    Of course this young woman was not RESPONSIBLE for her abuse, she was a CAPTIVE of this man, however, her parents who allowed this to happen to her are very ACCOUNTABLE, and in my opinion, should be tried with Mr. Alamo and sent to prison as well—yet, they were “hoodwinked” spiritually by Mr. Alamo who was their “prophet.”

    A few of these people from his cult are marching outside the court house with picket signs about how he is being railroaded by the Pope. LOL When he is taken inside each day on the “perp walk” he grins and struts like Charlie Manson. Makes me want to puke.



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  9. Escapee says:

    Blondegirlnyc

    I think you perhaps don’t have a full understanding of what happens when a victim has been ‘mentally’ broken down and the full extent of the mind twisting that goes on in – the ‘weakening’ of the spirit and psyche – some of the mechanisms employed by P/S/Ns have been used as forms of torture in warfare – a way of ‘breaking’ prisoners so they will ‘comply’ with interrogation.

    I am pleased that you, obviously, have not had these experiences (I haven’t read your ‘story’) but perhaps you are quick to judge in matters outside of your experience. There are alot of people on this site whose lives have been broken by these half-humans and who are working hard to try to put themselves back together – they/we are ALL TOO AWARE of their past mistakes in allowing the abuse to continue and this is possibly the hardest part for many (myself included) – the forgiving of ‘the self’ – so give us a break with the harsh judgement calls – that’s not what this site’s about. It’s about sharing and validating each others experiences and feelings – there’s a lot of kindness and empathy here – that’s why it’s such a lifeline for many of us, especially during the low low points. We’ve all had a bellyfull of being criticised and condemned – thank you.



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