Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

What happens to human rights when you’re the victim?

Why does the right to abuse trump the right to be safe & protected, and why must the victim change to avoid this abuse?

After the recent high profile twitter abuse against female campaigners, MP’s and journalists, I was shocked to see the same old advice being dispensed. These people were told simply ‘to stop using twitter and social media’ to avoid the abuse. Some even went as far as to say that the abuse on twitter was ‘right to freedom of speech’.

For ten years I’ve been subjected to the same ignorant advice regarding my stalker and told to ‘change your phone, move house, change your daughters nursery, change your routine, have people chaperone you to and from work’. Bottom line, I am forced to change my life continuously in order to counteract this stalking whereas this man can continue his criminal behaviour, but the agencies cannot seem to stop him. Therefore, responsibility falls on the victim to change their behaviour and routine and gone is the freedom to make a decision in life without considering the perpetrator first. So it seems easier to place restrictions on the law abiding victim than the actual perpetrator. Is that justice?

Thanks to this man, I’ve never used social media personally, never posted any information on our children, family holiday photos or kids achievements as many proud parents love to do. I know it doesn’t seem much of a loss but I enviously watch my friends post photos of their families and it upsets me that I have no freedom to choose if that is something I would like to do or not.

My children’s schools and activities were forced to take place in the one mile radius of my home as that was the stretch of the restraining order. To put them anywhere else would mean they were not protected by the restraining order. Is it right, that the victims are placed in the prison of a restraining order or confined by the demands of their abuser? I’ve been told ‘you shouldn’t have sent your daughter to a nursery just over a mile from your home as he did have a right to be in that area as it’s not on the restraining order exclusion zone’. Even though this man had no children so did he have a ‘right’ to look around the nursery that his victim’s child attends as a prospective parent? I’ve been advised again not to mention this breach publicly as thanks to the criminal justice agencies’ apathy he wasn’t actually convicted on this charge. Thanks to their apathy, they simply told me to move my daughter and place her in a nursery within the restraining order zone. Of course, it was totally my fault, how dare I want to choose a nursery for my daughter? I’m a victim; I don’t have a right to do what I want and it seems that we live in a culture that finds it easier to blame the victim’s harmless actions than the actual perpetrators harmful actions. As a consequence, I moved my daughter from her nursery and then had to keep her at home as no nursery would take her due to risk and I then wasn’t able to work as a result of this. But, no, best not mention this incident in case I offend my poor stalker and he’ll want to sue me again!

I’ve even been berated by some police officers for talking to media and professionals about my experience and for campaigning for the changes to the stalking laws. This was seen as ‘attracting his attention’ and I only had myself to blame when he sued me yet again for my campaign work for changing the law. The more I speak, the more I’m punished. But like the outspoken twitter victims this week, you do get to a point where you just have to say “ENOUGH! You’ve abused me for too long now” and have to fight back.

I’m also tired of hearing about the rights of the abuser. I’m frankly bored of hearing that my stalker had a right to sue me (one case that I contested at high court and won!) I’ve also had to endure that my stalker claims that he has a ‘human right to stalk me’. Well guess what? I have a human right to not be stalked! These women had a right not to receive a torrent of abusive ‘rape threat’ tweets and David Baddiel certainly doesn’t have a right to be subjected to anti-Semitic abuse.

My stalker and others’ perpetrators have a right to privacy on what they look like on release from prison and we, the victim, have no right in knowing if they have been rehabilitated or even treated.

Rights and secrecy protect the abusers, and the victims should remain silent and fearful with no right to speak out as this is publicly frowned upon.
But the tides are changing; victims are putting their fear temporarily aside and speaking out to force change.

Together we need to push for the state to accept that abusers of all forms - from trolls and stalkers to harassers and bullies - will not be tolerated in any form and they do not have the right to engender fear and anxiety.

Voice 4 Victims is about victims coming together, uniting and shouting out that they have a right to be protected by the state when a crime is committed. They have a right to information, protection, support, representation and to be communicated to in an appropriate manner. Too many victims are subjected to thoughtless comments and language from media, public and criminal justice agencies.

We need to keep addressing the issue of the lack of training and awareness for stalking, trolling, bullying, harassment and hate crimes that force their victims into years of solitude and isolation. The state is slow at recognising and understanding these crimes and too many victims are forced to just ‘live with it’ and change their life to avoid it.

I’m proud of every victim that has stood up recently in the face of fear and said ‘NO, I will not accept this’. Now the Criminal Justice system needs to follow suit and shield these victims from these abusers.

 

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