Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

What if she were your mother? Your daughter?

We see this comment a lot in reference to the victim blaming of victims of sexual and domestic violence and abuse:

What if she were your daughter? Your mother? Your sister? Your aunt?

We understand the desire to make the reality of victim blaming clear to those perpetuating damaging myths about sexual and domestic violence and abuse, however we have concerns about the use of this language. The implication in this use of language is that victims only matter due to their relationships with men. We understand that this is not what is intended by many making the comment but we need to be clear about all the potential consequences of our words. After all, this phrase is never used in conjunction with prostituted women, exited women or women working within the sex industry. It is used solely to refer to women who meet patriarchal definitions of "good" - which inevitably excludes most women.

We need to be very clear that sexual and domestic violence and abuse are unacceptable - irrespective of any other detail. If someone cannot understand the severity of these crimes without it couched in terms of their personal relationships, well, that just shows how endemic victim blaming is within our culture.

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2 thoughts on “What if she were your mother? Your daughter?

  • lynda sherlock says:

    Hi i have just read your last posting and disagree with it. Men, women and children can go through rape and sexual abuse at anytime of there lives. Heaven for bid that anybody has to go through this sort of crime and then organisations that are supposed to protect you don’t believe or your children when you disclose. As we have seen all over the country ,children vulnerable children in care who already have suffered with abuse by adults have been taken of the parents to be subjected to more abuse by sexual exploitation in large groups of men and ended up on the streets as prostitutes. We need to show explain how we feel when we disclose and not to be believed a , women, men and children who have been raped and abused. The lasting devastation that this has on the mental wellbeing and the life in general of a survivor of abuse how by not believing traumatises that person even more. Yes we should challenge other’s perception on how to treat another human being when they disclose abuse. Sometimes as shocking as it is you don’t want anybody to go through what you went through but lets be clear were not making light of abuse but sometimes people need to know it can be anybody anywhere in your home and on the street and saying you wouldn’t want anybody to be treated like some abuse survivors get treated by professionals .so yes would they want themselves to be treated or their family treated the way abuse survivors get treated in the media by the government local authorities and the NHS. Whether your a man, women and child we are all the same and should be treated the same it takes great courage and strength to disclose and stand and acknowledge the pain of abuse and shout and own your past good and bad.

  • Hecuba says:

    Agree with the above article women and girls are not mens’ private/sexual property. Informing males that male sexual violence can be committed against their ‘daughters/their wives/their sisters’ reinforces widespread male misogynistic belief that only males are autonomous humans whereas all females are owned by males!

    I’m still waiting to hear/see strapline directed at women informing them: ‘what if it was your brother/husband who was subjected to male violence.’ But that will not happen because women cannot ‘own males’