Society that blames the victim

I believe our attitudes to abused women are medieval, archaic and inhuman.  It seems as though a current climate of “ducking stool” mentality is rapidly eroding all the progress feminism, anthropology and sociology has made over the last 30 years. 


Amazingly abuse specific knowledge is not mandatory for mental health professionals (Despite the fact well over 50% of long term users of mental health services are victims of abuse!).  Many “professionals” claim they understand the issues however the gulf in understanding is enormous, and the only adequate training is given by overstretched charities.  It is a failing, which kills!  (Some people resort to suicide or alcoholism etc)


Yet the problems are complex and extend beyond just issues of ward organisation and access to psychotherapy.




The mental health system re-abuses and re-traumatises childhood trauma survivors by

a)    Failing to see how the needs of child abuse survivors differ from other mental health patients

b)    Inadvertently reproducing situations of powerlessness and lack of dignity replicating the original abuse

c)    Failing to recognise Dissociation and complex PTSD type II as valid conditions.


And in so doing provides a smoke screen for society, by “erasing” individuals affected by abuse through damaging mental health labels, contributing to societal Stockholm syndrome and ultimately aiding society in denying the scale of the long term consequences of child abuse.


When treatment fails, rather than questioning the levels of training or appropriateness of certain therapies there is a tendency to blame the victim. A person who has been abused repeatedly is sometimes mistaken as someone who has a “weak character.” Because of their chronic victimization, in the past, survivors have been misdiagnosed by mental-health providers as having Borderline, Dependent, or Masochistic Personality Disorder. When survivors are faulted for the symptoms they experience as a result of victimization, they are being unjustly blamed.  Researchers hope that a new diagnosis of Complex PTSD II will prevent clinicians, the public, and those who suffer from trauma from mistakenly blaming survivors for their symptoms.

I have discussed media reponses to abuse with survivors.  The consensus was that we are encouraged to “just get over it”. 
They said this created an added burden of shame and stigma to people who had long term damage, which was incredibly damaging to the survivor movement.   


The NCPCC refuses to align itself with the various Adult Survivor movements – assumedly because mental health is not the image they want (The crying children on the adds attracts more donations).  They also have the Green FULL STOP logo.  But for many survivors there is no FULL STOP – the damage is longstanding.  There seems to be an enormous reluctance to face up to the long term effects of abuse – which if anything should highlight the importance of prevention.  


I feel so passionately that all this needs exposing.  This stuff very rarely hits the media because the people it affects are some of the most vulnerable in society, yet have the least credibility due to the “mad” label.  Furthermore, many victims of the system believe that they don’t deserve any better (due to low self esteem) and so it goes unchallenged!  Also as is probably evident some of the issues are highly complex.





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5 responses to “Society that blames the victim

  1. I just wanted to say that I agree wholeheartedly. I am a survivor of early trauma as well as childhood abuse, emotional neglect and bullying. All this has caused my current ‘mental health problems’. It’s hard to untangle the medical diagnostic model from who I am as a person, and my life and experience. The ‘How Ill Are You’ is essentially a re-traumatising reenactment scenario. I’m lucky to be able to be in private psychodynamic psychotherapy, and to have an excellent GP. But society’s attitude is still appalling, and it is hard to escape the labels, ridicule and torment. Out in public with the legacy of my past is fraught with humiliations.

    Feel free to visit my Blog – my website as above.


  2. I’m glad I found this blog.
    I live in Scandinavia, and it’s the same victim-blaming there. As a feminist, – and a childhood abuse victim – I hate it.

  3. Dyan Moore

    Yes! Totally agree. We suffer in silence otherwise the system just re abuses you and you end up suffering more. Knowing this and staying away from the system that makes it worse is the only way. Women in current society are not valued. They would rather call you crazy than acknowledge normal effects of ABUSE. Focus on putting offenders away. Stop the epidemic. Mans world. 6% of ‘reported cases’ are charged. Ridiculous. Wake up society. These women are not weak. They’re pissed off at a world that doesn’t value the suffering and a world that doesn’t punish offenders.

  4. Signe M.M

    There are not many people who tell the consequenses of extreme childhood abuse truthfully. Maybe because they really dont know what it is….
    When you suffer from extreme ptsd, that can also partly show up as physical debilitation such as Cronique fatique syndrome, you will never recover. Especially when nobody/ sociaty will put yourself in your shoes and instead on purpose label you as insane in order to make it okay to take advantage of your brokenness. In reality reoffend, and take of where your “parents” left you.

    In the US there is far more awereness of everything, than there is in Denmark.

    • Signe M.M

      I should have written ” Them-self”. And I also especially want to note to the swedish lady below, that Luckely you cannot put Sweden in the same boat as Denmark. Sweden also have more awereness and is more worldly than Dk.Denmark is all hype, flattering praise and practice of a “socialsystem” that is hopeless……

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