Posted by: mzbitca | June 7, 2009

victim blaming shrouded in sympathy

I’m so sick of opinion articles in papers about domestic violence.  They so often pay lip service to basic knowledge of domestic violence situations and then jump right back into the backhanded and subtle victim blaming.  This article in the Chicago Sun Times is no different.

As is the case with other domestic violence tragedies, the children will be left orphans. These children will need years of counseling to overcome the burden their parents’ relationship has put on them.

To the women who are too caught up in their own violent relationship to see they are in danger, consider Irma Rodriguez.

Had she taken her stand years ago, it might have saved her life.

I am so sick of one woman’s tragic story being used as “lesson” for other women.  It smacks of “see you stupid bitches, do something.”   When she uses the term “caught up” she makes it seem like the women are all enraptured with their relationship and don’t notice that it could end in death.  She also completely ignores the statistic that the most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is when she tries to leave.  She also notes in her article that Irma had filed for divorce two years ago, yet she ends it as though her husband murdered her over dinner one night.  

What happened to Irma was tragic, but to act like she could have just walked out the door and all the problems would be solved is ignorant and naive.  It ignores the limited resources many women in abusive situations have.  They have often been isolated from family and friends, threatened with death or injury to themselves and loved ones if they leave or call the police, and have been financially controlled by their abusive partners.  It also, once again, puts the onus on the female to stop the situation.  It is accepted that this man is abusive and so all she can do is leave but refuses to focus on the main point of any domestic violence situation.  The abuser who is so invested in breaking down another human being both mentally and physically.  Why are we not discussed the difficulty in enforcing protective orders.  At this point they are nothing more than another thing woman are afraid of since they are hard to enforce and usually just result in a more vicious encounter.  Also, many abusers have taken protective orders out on their victims as a form of mental abuse and to threaten them with the possiblity of arrest if they call the police or step out of line.  Why are we not discussing that, in my state of Indiana, it is a felony to beat your dog but a misdemeanor to beat your wife.



  1. Ooh…new look round here (I haven’t clicked through in a while, sorry!).

    Thank you for this. It’s a long time irritation of mine.

    I was lucky when I left that I had a place to go and that I was able to leave fairly easily (once I had actually gotten the nerve to do so). Of course, it was easy to leave w/ the police standing there, blaming me for what happened and holding the door for me while I hastily grabbed a basket of my things. They all had a good laugh, and I received little more than phone threats later. But I was LUCKY. I can’t stand the arrogant victim blaming that takes place in media, by those who have a really easy time looking in and judging what they have not experienced.

  2. *shakes head*

    And now that my own aunt has become one of these statistics the circumstances around her death have caused me to see these situations a bit differently than I did before.

    So often women in this situations are depicted in the media as abused so much that they are broken inside, which is why they can’t leave. It’s true I’m sure for some, but it again limits our role to being simply victims, helpless, who can’t take care of ourselves.

    It’s an easy narrative but my aunt breaks it, and now I have to wonder how many others do.

    On the phone with her, my granddad heard her say clearly “Put that down!” Not in fear. Even when her fiance/bf was picking up the knife he would kill her with she was confident, commanding. Put that down! She didn’t think, even though he’d hit her before, she thought she knew him and that she still had some control in the situation. She still had some amount of agency, as far as she was concerned.

    I have to wonder. Maybe that’s part of what these people don’t like too. That women are exerting their agency in a way these writers don’t agree with. And the writers say, see!? it ended in her death! She’s stupid!

    But they’re really just reinforcing their own privilege, their own belief that they know better than us how we should live our lives…

  3. […] What a crazy happenstance looks at victim-blaming in opinion articles about domestic violence. […]

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