[TW for victim blaming] Advice columnist gets a letter from a woman who feels sexually coerced by her boyfriend. She also mentions:
I feel as if we mostly do things for him, but when I get the attention I had previously wanted I just feel uncomfortable. I’ve been manipulated sexually before, with other guys, and he knows that — which is why it is a particularly sensitive and emotional topic.
Advice columnist answers that boyfriend has coerced her, she should leave the relationship, and refers her to police and RAINN. All fine. Advice columnist then says,
Because this seems to be a pattern for you, after you break off your relationship you should seek professional help to better understand your own impulses and behavior.
You need time alone to figure this out. Don’t engage in another sexual relationship until you understand what happened here and get some clarity on your reaction.
Fucking excuse me? Way to put the blame on her and her alleged relationship patterns, asshole. Obviously if more than one person in your life has been abusive to you, it’s your poor choices and you need to seek professional help.
If you’d like to write a strongly worded letter to this victim blaming asshat (like I am!), here’s her contact information:
Write to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.
Hey, wait a cotton-pickin minute! This columnist is is the right when referring the woman to the police and RAINN, but wrong in suggesting she seek help for better self uderstanding? Since when is that a bad thing? And how on Earth is that BLAMING her for anything?! This is obviously someone looking for someone to blame for blaming a victim of their cause. Unfortunately there are plenty of accurate examples of victim blaming, but this certainly is not one. Note, the columnist advised seeking help and ending the relationship, both things that obviously put the boyfriend in the wrong and taking “the blame”. When the columnist comes under attack is when they write:
Because this seems to be a pattern for you,[note-“seems to be”, that is noncommittal and nonjudgmental] after you break off your relationship you should seek professional help to better understand your own impulses and behavior.[note-“to better understand” does not mean you horrible person go get your head fixed, it means there are ways to analyze how you think and interact with the world that can help you avoid more people like this as best you can.]
No one should ever settle for an abusive relationship of any kind, but certain personalities lend themselves to falling for other personalities, even if they realize what is happening, they may not feel they can escape it. It can happen multiple times- denial/habit/plain bad luck. That doesn’t make it right. That doesn’t make the victim wrong. But it most certainly does not mean the columnist was blaming the victim for ANYTHING by suggesting she seek more help to avoid this problem from ever happening again. The best defense is a good offense. Understand what you are going up against and you can smoke out the baddies from the get-go. So what if she just has terrible luck, seeking help could help her pick up on traits in other people so she can avoid relationships with them all together and be saved from being a victim yet again.
Way to over react. Things like this give the cause a bad name. Stick with rational facts. Try to consider that the columnist was trying to be helpful. Try to approach all things from both sides. Try to be level-minded. Try to have a good day. Thanks.
I agree with spellittumbler.
Suggesting that people who have experienced abusive or sexually coercive relationships seek counseling isn’t victim-blaming. For a person in an abusive relationship, it takes an average of seven tries before they walk away permanently. For a lot of survivors, therapy is helpful in understanding the emotional and psychological processes that make it so hard to walk away. It is important to understand the dynamics of the abuse/coercion, to understand ones own reaction to that experience, and to understand how an experience like that can affect someone emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. Having previous experiences with abuse or coercion can absolutely impact future relationships. It can make it harder to speak up when you start feeling uncomfortable. It can make it scarier to walk away from the relationship when it stops being healthy. It can be more difficult to engage in a healthy and positive relationship and to feel safe in those kinds of relationships. The advice columnist was not saying it was the woman’s fault—she was acknowledging that something about her past relationship(s) or experiences are still affecting her now. And she might find it helpful to work with a therapist or counselor to work through whatever wounds are left over from those experiences.
Encouraging someone who is trying to leave an abusive or coercive relationship to seek help from a therapist/counselor/clergy/psychologist/etc. is NOT a bad thing—I would argue it is the right thing to do. It is not victim blaming. If someone has a history of trauma (including sexual abuse or coercion), seeking help to work through that trauma and understand what their triggers are or what kind of relationships would be healthy and unhealthy for them is important. It is part of healing and moving past the trauma.
There is a lot of victim blaming in this world—but this article is not one of those cases.