Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Safeguarding: How victims become peripheral.

Victim blaming may be viewed in a variety of ways - active and passive, single and cumulative. Maybe an example of single active blaming would be to state that Sandra there, with her low-cut top and short skirt is bound to be raped. There are two things we know for sure about Sandra - she is fit and she is gagging for it.

Cumulative passive (or silent) blaming might be to infer that if only the crowd had not been so dense at Hillsborough not so many people would have been crushed to death. You know full well that if you are a football fan you take a risk in a crowd - how could you be so stupid as to go and watch football with a lot of other people?
Those who moved down the terraces to escape were to blame for crushing the people in front of them. It is vital that we alter the witness statements to ensure an outcome which removes blame from the truly guilty.

But there is another kind of silent blame, I feel, in the way that when something terrible happens which needs investigation by the state, the victims are not the main concern of the investigation. They become peripheral.

When children disappear after being taken from children's homes, most of the effort goes into finding the kidnappers or abusers and the dead or missing child becomes peripheral to the incident.

When Savile moved from hospital to hospital abusing children and young people or when Cyril Smith MP abused children at various locations, the inquiries became about Savile and Smith and not about the children. The victims were not held to be as important.

This can be confirmed by examining newspaper reports where headlines stand out - Savile abuses hundreds! - like some sort of record breaking hero. How ever did he manage it? How clever he was! How he manipulated the Royal Family, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the NSPCC, and everyone else under the sun. How he managed to get groups of children to sit in awe of him on the grass at Haute De La Garenne in Jersey. How Prince Charles and he wore kilts together next door to a room full of children - and let's not forget how amazing he was to have intercourse with the dead.

Where are the articles about the missing children, the weeping families, the thousands of victims of these celebrities, politicians, diplomats, spies, Home Office officials, BBC drivers and DJs?

In the same way as we end up blaming the girl with the low top and short skirt, we also end up silently blaming the foolishness of any under-age child for allowing themselves to be caught up with clever paedophiles. Surely they should have known better we mutter to ourselves.

But for those who inquire endlessly into these crimes and misdemeanours, barely a word about the abused. No systematic body count to find how many were taken and are now dead, in the sea, in the woods, in the ground somewhere or trafficked to Amsterdam.

No attempt to shorten the pain and enable closure by having smaller shorter inquiries for particular incidents. No - instead we check another 19 hospitals, taking yet another two years, until the Savile Inquiry will equal or even supercede the Iraq Inquiry - and on the day it is all published, with its glossy cover and 600 pages, at some stupendous televised news conference, then we all know that the main aim of the conference will be to show how stupendously clever Savile was and how he duped the Royal Family, police and politicians - a Paedophile for All Ages and a Deviant for All Seasons. A Jim'll Fix it Record Breaker.

But the victims? Where are they? How do they feel? Are they cleansed by being told under the glare of the lights that they were abused by a master paedophile, a Guinness Book of Records sort of a man - a Pope of Filth?

No, the victims will just sit at home and weep and no Prime Minister will come to see them and say sorry because the state failed to care even though the state knows who these people are and MI5 filmed their activities.

The state hopes and prays that no-one will ever say that it has a supervening duty for the safety of children. It hopes that excuses such as lack of money, poor training and higher crime priorities will excuse police inaction. It hopes that screaming at the writers of serious case reviews when they make mistakes will mask their own failure to make serious case reviews meaningful. It hopes that refusing mandatory reporting without giving cogent reasons will be sufficient because anyone who is a politician must be more intelligent than anyone who is not.

As long as we don't hold the state to account, then the cleverness of paedophiles can take the blame and the victims can be forgotten.

Phew! He is upset! Oh well, rant over. Let's get back to the Rugby and hope it all goes away - until the next time...

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