Think about these news headlines:
Marines Being Investigated for Sharing Nude Photos of Female Colleagues-NBC New York
Tennessee teacher suspected in 15-year-old’s kidnapping arrested; teen found safe.-Fox
Three O’Reilly sexual harassment accusers speak out-MSNBC
Right now, you have a story in your mind about the perpetrator and the victim. Some of you side with the victim while others believe the accused. When something horrific happens the mind goes into a narrow focus of black and white thinking, which explains why people take sides. I agree, there are cases of people being accused of crimes they did not commit. Why is it that when the evidence is overwhelming that people blame the victim or feel the victim of the crime has more responsibility than the perpetrator?
From my experience as a licensed psychotherapist, I have discovered the following reasons:
There is a lack of empathy for others and ourselves- When you hear a story about a crime that happened to another person it arises a feeling of judgment within you. It is easy to say after hearing a story that you would have handled it differently. The truth is you do not know how you would cope until you are in it yourself. You can give a good guess, it is something else to live and act in the moment.
It is uncomfortable sitting with your own inner victim. To identify with the victim of a story you need to acknowledge that there were times in your own life that you were victimized or felt vulnerable and there was nothing you could do about it at that time. Many cannot handle this truth and instead reject it, projecting their anger onto the victim.
You don’t want to accept that it is not a just world- Bad things happen to people and they did not ask for it or bring it upon themselves by what they did or did not do. Sometimes bad things happen to good people because you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This randomness to the world is a scary concept.
It is easier to blame others believing they deserve what they got rather than admit this could have happened to me. The proverb, there but for the grace of God go I, admits this recognition that others’ misfortune could be one’s own and there are parts of our lives that are out of our control. The good news is you can always choose how to respond to any event.
Denial about the perpetrator –Sometimes the person harming others is someone you know or could even be a family member or friend. It is difficult to accept that someone you love could commit a crime. This very truth can cause people to shift the focus of responsibility from perpetrator to victim. You may wonder what the accused person’s behavior says about you as a person. Their behavior, as an adult, is their responsibility. What others do has nothing to do with you.
Lack of acceptance of your own inner perpetrator –As I stated earlier you have an inner victim but you also can have an inner perpetrator or bully. Is there something that you have done that you are having trouble facing that was hurtful to yourself or others?
Blaming the victim drains your life force of energy because you are negating the vulnerable parts within yourself and putting your focus on someone else’s life. You do not know the life lessons and growth for other people but you can work on yourself. We are all here to learn from one another and ourselves, whether we find ourselves in the position of a victim, a perpetrator or a witness.
Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts refill and recharge their energy with counseling and angel card reading sessions. Helping sensitive souls not only survive but shine! Get her 10 page E-book FREE called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at www.lisahutchison.net