Is it just me, or do some people seem to think true victims don’t exist?
In their mind, there are people theoretically more or less at fault, but the person less at fault is held to an even higher standard than the person more at fault: “Sure, you got raped, but hey, calm down. Respond with love and forgiveness. Right now.”
If you don’t respond with the patience of a saint, legitimate hurt and even abuse gets swept under the rug.
And if you do respond with uncommon grace, well, then, don’t forget you’re no better than anyone else. Share any complaints about the abuse or injustice, any fears, sorrows, or angry outbursts — any negative emotion, period — and the conversation gets turned around to the real issue at hand: “You’re too bitter. You’re too angry. You’re too emotional. You’re not a perfect person, either, so show some grace.”
I’m all for empowering victims to control their own behavior, thoughts, and emotions. You don’t get away with murdering white police officers in response to racism, for instance. It’s not emotionally healthy to stew in hate for the rest of your life. But it’s false, patently false, to think that just because somebody responds in a poor or even heinous way doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced real abuse, or that their abuse isn’t important to address.
I’ve been wondering why people don’t understand this, because to me, your favorite whiny millennial SJW, victimization seems so obviously a thing that happens far more often than I ever thought possible. Why isn’t it obvious to everyone?
I think there are two reasons why.
One, there’s an understanding that it takes two to tango — if you got sexually assaulted, you must have done something come hither; if someone picked a fight with you, you must have provoked them. There are two sides of the story. The victim is the cause, the abuse is the effect. There is some sort of fault on both sides. This is because…
…two, abusers don’t always look like abusers, and/or victims don’t always look like victims. Abusers can be charming, lovable, pitiable, even decent, while their victims can be moody, problematic, frustrating, and guilty of other offenses. Even victims have a hard time labeling themselves as such, because they feel to some degree that they deserved the abuse.
Many people are looking for a victim that doesn’t exist — a lovable victim with an unblemished personality and few moral flaws to speak of. They don’t see victimhood, because they’re looking for a black-and-white case between an evil person and a good person.
This seems to drive the conversation — or lack thereof — on every justice issue. Who wants to believe that racism’s a problem when some black people, in the name of their lives mattering, torch Milwaukee? Who wants to validate a petulant teenager’s feelings and dramas that seem too much like a ploy for attention? Who wants to listen to the mean kid’s sob story after she just punched her classmate in line? Who believes the prostitute when she files charges for rape?
It seems unthinkable to us that imperfect and even repulsive people could ever be victims.
But they are. And we need to see them.