When I first became aware of this site 3 or so weeks ago, it was a light bulb moment in my life. It was as if I had been given another piece of the jigsaw to understand myself, to understand why I react in certain ways, and how I have allowed victim blaming to totally dominate my life and shape the person I have become.
I think victim blaming is woven so deeply in the structure of our society that it impacts on our cultural values and norms, and obviously then drip feeds into everyday personal experiences. The personal is political and vice versa. It shapes our values, our thinking, and ultimately feeds into maintaining patriarchal society, which likes to keep women firmly in their place.
I hadn’t even realised that I was a ‘victim’ of victim blaming.
I hadn’t realised that I was my own worst critic and this is what has shocked me the most. I work hard on myself. I suffer from anxiety, self doubt, low self worth, hypersensitivity,-I never think I am good enough, I am terrified of rejection, I don’t trust.......most days it is an effort to get out of bed and face the day. However, I get up, I put my mask on, and go out and meet the world, and try to make a difference. I read self help books, I belong to women’s groups, I have had therapy, counselling, I have amazing friends. I have a wonderful husband.
When I was a child I was blamed for ruining my mum’s figure (by her giving birth); for my sister’s nervous disposition; for my father’s stomach ulcer and alcoholism; I was told I was dirty, a slut, my brother and sister were told to cross the road if they saw me in the street; my beauty was skin deep. My father told me he could read my mind –I believed him- and he would stop my university grant if he found out I was sexually active.
My father carried a photo of me in a bikini in his wallet; he came into the shower everyday for two years; he totally fucked with my mind so I didn’t know who I was and it was my fault that he had inappropriate feelings for me, and had made our family a very fearful and unsafe place. I believed him. My friend’s father sexually abused me. I thought it was my fault for going for a glass of milk in my nightdress.
I was sexually assaulted in town on my way to work- again, my fault for wearing a short skirt. Men groped me, had sex with me, always my fault for being so cute they couldn’t help themselves; I was a prickteaser and asking for it. I was beaten unconscious and held hostage by a friend’s boyfriend- my fault for being her friend and letting her stay in my house. My son and I suffered from PTSD for many years following this particular event and my guilt at ruining my son’s childhood remains with me.
I could go on and on - the list is endless....
The most shocking realisation has been that I have been the one blaming myself the most. I wear it like a second skin and didn’t even realise it until I read about this website on twitter. I blame myself for everything; I judge myself harshly. Others blamed me first and so it seemed only natural to pick up the baton and run with it without questioning the effect it has had, and is having, on my psyche, my health and my well being.
I have recently had a number of cancerous lumps removed from my labia and perineum-you guessed it- inside I had the little voice telling me it was my fault for being sexually active!
So thank you for your website and your campaign. I will now work on being my own best friend instead of my own worst enemy. I will challenge victim blaming; I will be kind to myself. I was a victim- it was not my fault!
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Susan I am moved by your story, and so sorry for what was done to you. I wish you the best in your work to be kind to yourself and become you own best friend. I am rooting for you!