This morning a friend/colleague of mine, Jeff Perera, posted a video (click his name for the video) of him on The Morning Show talking about the recent release of security footage of now former-NFL player Ray Rice punching his fiancee, Janay Rice, in the face, knocking her unconscious. Jeff is the community engagement manager for the White Ribbon Campaign, an organization that sets out to end violence against women but educating men and changing our current idea of masculinity as meaning violence. One of the hosts mentions that Janay Rice came forward and acknowledge her role in provoking Ray Rice. She took the blame for him punching her. This is called victim-blaming, survivor-blaming, and it is WRONG!
So many women are blamed for the abuse they experience. It doesn’t matter which culture or race either. The motivations of power and control are the same. The ways of keeping women down are the same. Some women, myself included, even begin to identify as the abuser. They begin to believe that they are in fact the abuser and their abusive partner is the victim. Women can be a willing participant in their blaming because most times it’s just easier and what is accepted by society. This is WRONG!
I am writing this feeling extremely overwhelmed as I have realized the extent to which I blamed myself and was blamed for the abuse in my last relationship. It was easy to blame me and accept blame because of my mental health issue. My poor mental health was a scapegoat. I was always emotional and angry, lashing out verbally and sometimes physically, so anything he did or said to me was justified in my mind and most likely his mind too.
I was so mad at myself for destroying him, making him act in ways he didn’t want to act. During the second year of our relationship I spent two weeks trying to come up with a way to survive a suicide attempt so I could get into therapy faster and save my relationship. I went back into therapy with the goal of controlling my anger and saving my relationship. I went back on psych drugs to save my relationship. I did all of this with a person who had no interest in acknowledging his role in our unhappiness and wanted things to stay the way they were because they worked for him. Who wouldn’t want to be with someone who struggles so hard to keep them happy?
The truth is, he is 100% responsible for all the rotten abusive things he did. Was I easy to get along with? Of course not. But he could never admit when he had done something wrong to upset me. I was always overreacting or delusional. He could never admit that he could have done something differently during a fight. I was always making him behave in ways that he believed were against his nature. He wouldn’t try different ways of communication or wouldn’t try counselling. I was always trying to change him and believed he shouldn’t have to change. These were my warning signs and instead of saying, “Fuck this! I’m out!” I stayed and told myself that I was too demanding, selfish, and broken.
All of these realizations are refreshing and exactly what I need to be able to heal but I’m also extremely mad and sad that I put myself through all of that. But, that is still blaming the victim which as I said earlier is WRONG!