Posted by: mzbitca | March 3, 2009

Victim-blaming poll question for 200, Alex?

Unfortunately, American Idol is aired on Fox which means if I’m not paying attention after the show I can accidentally be watching Fox News!!!!11!!!1.  They were discussing the possibility that Chris Brown and Rihianna might be getting back together and then they moved on to their Fox News Poll question:  “Do you believe couples dealing with abuse can make it work?” 

There is so much wrong with the wording of this post that I don’t know where to start. Ok, I totally do:  I’m going to slightly reference the recent situation with Brown as I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this poll was done now and that I believe most people, when answering the poll will have a vision of what we know of their situation in their head.

Other than the fact that they asked the question I had two main issues with the wording:

1.  “Couples dealing with abuse”:  This makes it sound like they equally share the burden and that what ever they are going through it is on an equal level.  Which means who the abuser is dealing with the abuse that they have engaged in is no less traumatized by the situation than the abuser.   Are there people out there that truly do want to work out anger issues and are remoresful for what they’ve done? I’m sure, but at no point in time will that ever compare with what they have done to another person both physically and emotionally.  All of this talk about Chris Brown being “saddened” by the situation is along the same lines. They’re both equal victims in this and are on equal footing is what the coverage and statements like this imply.  It is further enforced by the next part of the question.

2.  “…can make it work?”:  Again this implies like the abused has an equal fault in the relationship dynamic and needs to work with the abuser.  It either intentionally or inadvertently supports the belief that if someone is abusive there is something the other person can do to make it stop or to “meet them in the middle.”  This is just the flip side, well-worded way to imply the victim was slightly at fault.  It enforces the belief that statements like “she threw his car keys” “she pushes his buttons”  are valid assertions when discussing abusive relationships and their dynamic.  

Altogether the question does two things: It makes the abuser more of a victim and the victim more responsible for what happened to them.  It completely ignores the fact that when one person raises a hand to another in a relationship they are Always Wrong and it is not the other person’s fault or responsibility that they behaved the way they did.



  1. The language used to discuss domestic violence since the Chris and Rihanna domestic violence incident is incredibly alarming. Many end up blaming her for his actions are implying that by her return to him he now has a free pass to beat her.
    Some of the ones that I found most disturbing try to make this a racial issue i.e. we are only persecuting Chris because he is a black man. The fact is had he not beat Rihanna in the first place we would not be talking negatively about him. This has nothing to do with the color of his skin.

    • What’s really depressing is that I counsel teenagers with drug and alcohol problems and this topic came up yesterday and the two girls in the group were convinced that there is something that she could have done to warrant that beating. I told them there is nothing she could have done to have what happened to her be acceptable and they were like, I don’t know there are some things. It makes me want to cry sometimes

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