Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

dont label me, till you’ve been me!

I don't even think im angry anymore, i just feel sad.

im sad because in 2015 i still survive in a society that would blame and re-victimize me and other survivors for being raped, and or abused, im sad because responsible people like police, social care, teachers, hospital staff and the media have the chance to to change attitudes and often don't. (and im only speaking from my own experiences).

so many times iv'e seen tweets or headlines that say, the victim has suffered a serious sexual assault, or, that was a brutal rape, well my response to that is, who decides weather a rape was brutal, and how do they come to that conclusion, all rapes are an act of brutality! what do you think it does to a victim when you label there experience, does it mean that because they don't have several broken bones that they should be grateful, does it mean that because there were only four scumbags that raped her she should be grateful because it would have been more brutal had there been ten!

the only person that has a right to label there trauma if they want too, is the victim of that specific crime. and being a person that has been labeled all my life by one so called professional or another i can say first hand that, labeling my abuse has caused me a lot more hurt and in fact abuse. because the people i asked for help let me down so badly, i came to think of it as my reality, it became normal for me, other people didn't think it was a big deal, so why should i. and even when i had reported certain instances of abuse, nothing ever came of it, so i thought what was the point, if this was really so bad, someone would help me right..... WRONG, NO ONE DID.

things got bad, so much so at one point i had a meeting with all professionals, (and i use the term professional extremely lightly) this included police, schools, social care, and some others, this meeting went ahead because it had been decided that after 20 years someone thought my life was in danger, so whats supposed to happen is, all these people get together and decide how they can help to support me and keep me safe, well, again that wasn't what happened, not even two weeks after that meeting when it was decided i needed help to keep this person away from me, i had another meeting with this social worker and a domestic violence advocate, this social worker informed me that she wanted me to get these specific orders against my abuser to keep him away from my home, which was fine with me, scary, but fine, (cause now things were gonna be different right, these people were gonna help to keep me safe.....) WRONG AGAIN, i had moved home, but my children were not allocated a place at a school near where i had now moved to, which delighted my abuser.

1)because he was taking them to school everyday, and gave him access to me and my home twice daily.

2)he charged my £30 a week to take them to school, knowing that money was tight.

3)because this made him look like a hero, taking his children to school everyday, so hes a good guy right.

so when i asked the social worker how i would get my children to school and back again everyday, she looked confused and said, right well what you can do is let him continue to take the children to school and when they are allocated a place then you get the orders! my dv advocate asked this woman if they could help me financially with paying my children's father to take them to school, (her way of helping was to contact him and tell him i had complained about the money he was charging me, and that Monday he started charging me £50 a week. (but this apparently is not him abusing me,)i was labeled as over dramatic, and paranoid. when this social worker was informed by my rape crises advocate that my abuser had abused me in a vile, and sadistic manner, the only thing she was interested in was the details, not once did she do anything positive to support me, and in fact went on to give this information not to the police, or another body to help me she shamed me, in a room with my children's teachers and discussed the matter, when i asked her why she said it was information they needed to know.

well all that did was further let me know that no one was going to give me the practical help i needed,and because over the years i had learned to try and cope with everything that was happening, i had started to self harm, become depressed, suffer with anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and ocd, all labels put on me by other people, so i just excepted those labels, when people look at me, that's what they see, every time Ive asked for help, they look at the information they have, and they see, mental health issues, or, that looks like to much paper work.

over the years, Ive sat in rooms with social workers, and various other people, with black eyes, broken ribs, broken teeth, broken fingers, welts from being beaten with a strap, after being sexually assaulted, and no one saw me, all they saw was paperwork, that's all they still see, no one sees me, no one ever has, they see a hostile person with mental health issues and that's it.

the police came out to our home once, a noise complaint i believe they called it, these two male officers stood in our living room at the time, whilst my abuser sat next to me, and asked HIM what happened, apparently we had a little argument, i attacked him, and he pushed me away in self defense, then told me to apologize for making the officers come out, they looked at him, no marks bruises, nothing, they looked at me, and saw a lump on my forehead the size of a golf ball, they saw bruising around my eye, and swelling to the side of my face, but again, they didn't see me, cause when they asked me if that was true, i answered yes, i mean what the hell was i gonna say with him right next to me, i mean they could see the state of me, but did nothing, in fact what they did say was that if they were called out again, someone was getting arrested and they didn't care who, but looked at me when this statement was being made.

this is just one example of the gross negligence i have suffered at the hands of all these people who never see me, only see a label, or a statistic, or too much paperwork.
over the years i have suffered broken bones, cuts and bruises, burns, all manner of physical abuse, and no one has the right to tell me, which of those instances of violence are worse than another, do they all hurt differently, yes of course, but do i feel better when someone says to me, its only a black eye, or its just a few stitches, as apposed to your lucky you didn't loose your baby, and its only you coccyx that's broken, when you trivialize abuse, it makes it harder to except your being abused, or more dangerously, warps your perception of abuse so desperately, that you think its not bad enough to report.

its the same with rape and sexual violence, how do differentiate, good rape from bad rape, brutal, to not so bad, what are we telling survivors, of just rape, you weren't hurt enough for it to be classed as brutal, come on, its enough already, and im sick of it, rape, and i mean all rape, is a vicious, violent and brutal act, weather your a child, or an adult, fat or thin, black or white, its a violation of basic human rights. when i was 18 i was raped and beaten by my abuser and 4 of his friends, some people would say that was a brutal rape, and they would be right, but that is not the only time i have been raped by him, or whomever he decided to pass me around too back then, in later years of my relationship, it was just him that raped me, but does that mean i was being any less raped, did that mean i shouldn't have tried to kill myself, because it was only him raping me now, should i be glad or grateful it was only him, cause after all i could be more brutal right..... NO, ITS WRONG!!!!!

I still feel powerless, i still want to die, i still feel like i deserve it, i still feel ashamed, i still feel dirty, i pretty sure most if not all victims/survivors of rape, brutal or other wise will all feel some if not all what i feel, but all there trauma will have been different.
labels are just another way of victimizing someone, who has already been victimized enough, be responsible, in you professions, think about what you say or actions you take when writing, tweeting, commenting,and or reporting, rape and or abuse, victim blaming, can have damaging, long lasting, and too often deadly outcomes for victims of ALL ABUSE!


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8 thoughts on “dont label me, till you’ve been me!

  • Marie Hume says:

    I am so sorry and thank you for sharing this. I have known many women who have had such negative experiences with so-called professionals. The lack of understanding and empathy you have experienced is far too common. Women-blaming for their own victimization is unfortunately part of our patriarchal system. Thank you for your courage in sharing this.

    • natalie says:

      i don’t think its courage as much as purely pissed off and angry, for far too long Ive just sat and taken crap from my abuser, and then from people who protest to help, and im sick of it, i hate that people who have no idea how i feel tell me it will get better, that im strong and so on, cause im not, and i know that, but i refuse to lay down and die quietly, and i wont stay quiet, not anymore, the shame i feel in my life is overwhelming at times, so much so that if i sleep and wake up, i feel sad, and people who are constantly doing wrong and failing in there responsibilities dont have to answer for anything, so i will expose them, i’ll tell the world, that the society we live in protects rapists, abusers and perverts, in order to cover up the fact that they failed me and mine so terribly, and then think that i will sit quietly and allow them to shame me back into silence…. NO NO NO!
      but thank you for being encouraging to me, its very kind.

      • elisa hill says:

        we all have a time when we start to say “enough”,Jon had always known i would not tolerate him hitting my kids,so he never crossed that line, i should have been kinder to myself…he hit me, forced me to have sex when i didnt want to,(which i now know was rape,just because it wasnt some pervert in a dark alley doesnt mean it wasn’t rape), there was always the unspoken threat if i didnt give in…i have felt so bad i was on anti-depressants just to survive…i have self harmed, i have had broken bones,black eyes,bruises.I know what it is like not to be heard,to be dismissed as “hysterical” This was 20 years ago,i now have a great life, i feel i can be “me”,something i lost for a long time,i am so glad you are Angry,and not willing to take it anymore,WELL DONE for speaking out, for NOT BEING SHAMED INTO SILENCE!!Take it from a survivor further down the Road, you are doing great!

        • natalie says:

          thank you for your encouraging comments, i speak here because i feel safe, and heard, i don’t want to take crap anymore but unfortunately that’s not always possible, but im glad to hear you have a happy life now, and your right, i am angry, im angry with the constant injustices that i and many others face when being abused, but when i vent my frustrations, i feel like i take back a little control, and as mad as it sounds, i feel better, maybe one day I’ll have the courage to tell him how i feel, but for now i speak where i feel safe. stay happy. x

  • Ginny Brown says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. They shed so much light on these organisations which supposedly provide help to those in need, but in reality don’t conduct the basic training required to ensure they don’t make things worse.

    Social workers should never take advantage of vulnerable people to use sensitive information which they provide for purposes for which it isn’t intended. They should be up front *before* extracting this information about what they intend to do with it, and they need to be educated about the ramifications of dishing it out willy-nilly.

    My assessment is that feminists and all advocates for DV victims need to assess current state bodies, especially the police, as being inherently pro-capitalist and pro-male power. We need to create the preconditions for forming embryonic alternative (pro-worker and pro-women) bodies, which can one day supplant these inherently oppressive institutions. It is appalling that women are further victimised by bodies which we’re told will help us, but don’t.

    • natalie says:

      i want to let people know im angry, i want people to know that just because these people are in organizations that are supposed to help you, doesn’t mean that always happens, and unless people talk about these terrible failings, they wont stop, 2 women are killed a week due to domestic violence, and i don’t want to be one of them.
      thank you for you encouraging comments, take care. x

  • netminnow says:

    Had a support job in a school system where I saw what’s described above over & over. When try to support victim in ways they need are told by other so called professionals, ” Well, what’s the point. We KNOW she’ll just re-cycle through another poor choice.” or they’ll mock families behind their back or the worst,cite budget concerns. I’d point out even if we don’t have money to provide, victim still needs the support, how are we going to get it to them? “That’s not my job, I’ve ticked the box on my paperwork” Appeals to conscience don’t work, “How would you feel to wake up to MsX/children as a headline b/c we couldn’t be bothered?” ” It will happen one day no matter what we do.” fatalism.

    I would forward private agency information to families frequently. At least it was something. I was always seen as rocking the boat by FOLLOWING THE LAW, informing families of their rights and dismissed for so-called budget reasons. I call the above practices the “I’m here to NOT help you; paycheck collector”

    I’m glad you posted here for two reasons. One, many here will re-validate your experiences. Even when you know your truth, it is lonely not to hear it out loud from others. Two, you will encounter brainstorming, twists on the experience and new information in support so you can hopefully craft new responses in support of yourself and your children. Thank you and Best Wishes.

    • natalie says:

      i hear your frustrations, and its sad that professionals have the mentality they do when dealing with victims of abuse, and yes at times women do make poor choices, but not because they enjoy being abused, its because they are afraid, afraid of consequences that come if there abuser is not prosecuted, afraid they will lose there children, afraid they wont be believed, afraid that speaking can cause them to be seriously hurt, or even killed, and if the appropriate organizations supported victims better, they would have more faith, and feel strong enough to try and change the situation, but when you have no faith or trust in anyone, sometimes victims feel, its better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t, which in itself is terrible, but its a reality, victims aren’t always strong enough to fight abusers and the people who say they want to help, but then blame you for your abuse, thank you for your encouraging comments, take care. x