->''"Ignoring the fact that they would probably be the first ones to [[BringMyBrownPants piss themselves]] and/or [[LeeroyJenkins get]] [[TooDumbToLive killed]], their reaction is the worst of the bunch, because it's more than a misguided attempt to offer comfort or find an explanation. It's actively shifting the blame from the perpetrator to the victims, as if it's their own fault for getting killed because they were a bunch of pussies who couldn't manage the [[BlatantLies simple]] task of disarming a gunman who kicked his way into their classroom.\\
"It also shows staggering amounts of condescension and poor logic. Much like everyone knows what UsefulNotes/SuperBowl winning plays should have been called the day after the game, it's a lot easier to analyze a shooting in the calm comfort of your warm monitor glow and Cheetos-stained sweatpants than it is while you're busy wondering if your math teacher will survive having his lung perforated."''
-->''Website/{{Cracked}}'', "[[http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-least-helpful-ways-people-react-to-tragedy/ The 5 Least Helpful Ways People React to Tragedy]]"[[note]]Referring to those who have the reaction, "If I Had Been There..."[[/note]]

This page is an overview of the concept of "victim blaming," for those who want to know more about victim blaming in a meta sense for their own writing (and for possibly avoiding it [[UnfortunateImplications if it's unintended]] or being more aware in its use if it ''is'' intended) or for understanding the concept of victim blaming in RealLife to some extent. If you want to see ONLY fictional examples or examples of how victims are blamed in fiction, please go to GoodVictimsBadVictims.


[[folder: Definition ]]

"Victim blaming" is, simply put, the concept of placing the responsibility for a misfortune primarily or entirely on the victim of the misfortune. When "victim blaming" is referred to, it almost always refers to when someone hurt by someone or something ''did not actively contribute to the misfortune'' and is still being blamed for their own misfortune.

This is often a BerserkButton and can be a UsefulNotes/{{trigger}}, especially for people who have had or who know someone who has had experiences similar to a blamed victim.


[[folder: Causes ]]

Belief in victim blaming stems from a desire for comfort and hope:

# Victim blaming comforts you by reassuring you that bad things only happen to people who 'deserve' it because they didn't 'do the right thing': '''"People choose to become victims."'''[[note]]In [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper terms]], this would be labeling all misfortunes as LaserGuidedKarma and all victims as {{Asshole Victim}}s. We intentionally refrained from potholing the main phrase because then [[UnfortunateImplications we could be seen as]] [[{{Hypocrite}} engaging in victim blaming ourselves]].[[/note]]
# Victim blaming gives you the illusion of control over your fate, giving you hope that bad things won't happen to you if you 'do the right thing': '''"I can't be a victim because I choose not to be one."'''

At the root of this desire for comfort and hope are two fears. Fears that:

# Bad things happen to people who don't 'deserve' it: '''"People have no choice in becoming victims."'''
# Even if you 'do the right thing', bad things could still happen to ''you'': '''"I could be a victim."'''

We are not instinctively rational beings who decide what to believe on the basis of rational thought. Instead, we instinctively [[ConfirmationBias use our reasoning to justify what we already believe]]. Belief in victim blaming offers us great comfort and hope, and abandoning it would give us cause to fear. Accordingly, [[ConfirmationBias we remember information which justifies our belief in it and ignore or reject information which inspires doubt]]. The factual invalidity of victim blaming is irrelevant; if we wanted to do so badly enough, [[IRejectYourReality we could keep believing in it forever]].

Using victim blaming InUniverse to [[EstablishingCharacterMoment establish a character]] and avoiding or challenging it are the most obvious two for which most writers may find some use. Let's look at using it to establish a character first:


[[folder: Obvious Victim Blaming ]]

Obvious victim blaming is ''directly accusing the victim of a misfortune of causing it''.

Having a character do this will establish them as a {{Jerkass}} at best.

Some examples of obvious victim blaming:
* Blaming a rape victim for being raped due to promiscuity, alcohol or drug use, state of dress, being out after a certain hour, etc.
* Blaming disaster victims because they live in an area prone to disasters and/or prepared insufficiently.
* Blaming X "sinful behavior" for Y disaster (though this is almost exclusively the purview of TheFundamentalist).
* Blaming the victim for reacting negatively to hurtful things said to them/about them by telling them that they need to suck it up or that [[JustJokingJustification the hurtful things that were said were not meant to be taken seriously]].
* Blaming a DomesticAbuse victim for somehow provoking their abuser into violence. UsefulNotes/{{Abuse}}rs themselves are often known to say things like "WhyDidYouMakeMeHitYou" to portray their actions as [[NeverMyFault never their fault]].
* Blaming a victim of homo/transphobia for being openly queer in public, such as a same-sex couple holding hands, a CampGay man, ButchLesbian, or transgender person being themselves, etc. Even if people agree that the actions were wrong (itself not a guarantee), GLBT people are still told that violence and discrimination against them wouldn't happen if they "tone it down".


[[folder: Subtle Victim Blaming ]]

Subtle victim blaming is accusing the victim not of directly causing their misfortune, but of enabling it or bringing it upon themselves via ''unrelated'' actions.

Some examples of this:

* Blaming someone experiencing a misfortune for not having a consistently positive and thankful mental attitude, not praying enough/not being devoted enough/not thanking enough or not being submissive enough to an authority the blamer values, such as a parent, leader, spouse, etc.
* Blaming someone who became addicted to a substance or mentally ill for being "weak-willed."
* Saying that "[[NoTrueScotsman true victims/survivors]]" only act in a certain prescribed way. Saying that someone's feelings are not legitimate because they are expressed in even a way normally connected to a stereotype or fakery is blaming them for not expressing their feelings "properly."
* Questioning the reactions of a victim, also known as the "Why didn't you do something different?" argument. This is a common question in real life, partly because most people would prefer to think that they, in a similar situation, would handle it logically or rationally in such a way that would prevent or end whatever victimization occurs. This comes up often in cases of abuse of all types, but the core idea is that the victim ''could'' have done something to stop it, but ''didn't'', thus it's their own fault for letting it happen.
** It should be noted that the phrase "fight or flight instinct", referring to the adrenaline rush that gives people the necessary energy and strength to either run from or fight off a threat, is over-simplified, leading some people to think that not fighting or escaping means that there was no survival instinct and thus the victim didn't really feel threatened and thus allowed themselves to be victimized. The more correct idiom would be "fight, flight, [[TakeAThirdOption or]] ''[[DeerInTheHeadlights freeze]]''". [[labelnote:There are times when it makes perfect sense to respond to danger by freezing up and waiting for it to go away...]]Essentially, by remaining motionless, the chance of the threat ''noticing'' them (if it hasn't already) decreases dramatically (objects in motion are more easily detected by the eyes of many animals, and moving objects also tend to make more noise than motionless objects). Granted, in the situations we're talking about, it's too late to escape the danger ''entirely'' by freezing up, and indeed, many animals will fall back to fight or flight when it becomes clear that freezing has failed, but... keep reading.[[/labelnote]] It's an equally valid instinct to simply wait for the attack to end in order to walk away alive, especially against an attacker who is likely to be further provoked by resistance. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there are times when the safest and smartest thing a person can do to survive an attack is to do nothing at all.
*** Or to even collaborate and bargain with the attacker/abuser/person threatening you -- for example, begging a rapist to put on a condom or doing what they tell you to do even if you're doing something illegal or "wrong" in the process, just to ''get out of there alive'' and somewhat less harmed. (So we've now expanded the instinct to "[[AddedAlliterativeAppeal fight, flight, freeze]], or... [[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers beg]]".) StockholmSyndrome and LimaSyndrome are also very real things, especially in situations of abuse and/or confinement (e.g. a situation one cannot leave without potentially getting killed or otherwise put in danger, anything from being in an [[DysfunctionJunction abusive family]] or [[{{Cult}} religious sect]] to, in some cases, simply being in someone's car and not knowing if there is a gun hidden under the driver's seat/if he'll stop and let you out somewhere safe if you say no). ''Doing what you have to do to protect your safety and life'' does ''not'' make you "less of" a victim or somehow complicit.
* If someone who is transgender or HIV-positive doesn't reveal this fact about themselves to a sex partner, who finds out and reacts in the worst possible way. In many cases the victim ''and only the victim'' is blamed for non-disclosure, with no criticism whatsoever towards the assailant. Over the years, the "trans-panic" defense has allowed people to literally get away with murder.


[[folder: Avoiding Victim Blaming ]]

Let's say you want to avoid victim blaming entirely, which is probably the best course of action in social media discussions, in some forms of writing (generally nonfiction works and in fictional works where you don't want to address the issues which it brings up), and in some other places.

* There are many forms of victimization that don't "just happen" to people; they have a perpetrator, someone who actively harms someone else. Writing characters or situations where someone has invited retribution on themselves may make for good drama, but drawing a connection between someone murdering puppies and then being sexually violated by an unrelated stranger is lazy writing at best and evokes ValuesDissonance at worst. We love to see [[LaserGuidedKarma a bad person get punished]], but the punishment should come from the consequences of their actions, not whatever misfortune would best pay off their karmic debt ([[YouPutTheXInXY That's what puts the "Laser" in]] LaserGuidedKarma, and why it's not named "Random-Ass Unguided Karma"). Doing otherwise insinuates both that other victims of similar events must have done ''something'' to deserve it, and can create ugly {{Double Standard}}s; avoiding it keeps the trauma dramatically viable for other characters.
* On the other hand, there are many forms of victimization that ''do'' "just happen" to people. Natural disasters, diseases, blights, and droughts fall under that umbrella. In fiction, there's a little more leeway to let these types of things be karma-driven (there's a reason they're sometimes called "[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_God Acts of God]]"), but again, these things need a connection to the victim's actions or attitude to be viable punishment if the reader is expected to think they deserve it. For a very, very broad example, one might argue that the guys who named it the ''[[UsefulNotes/RMSTitanic Titanic]]'' and proudly assured everyone that nothing on Earth could sink it deserved to be punished for their hubris, but did they really deserve to die a gruesome death for it? And what about the ''passengers'', who only wanted a boat ride?
* People react differently to stressful situations of all kinds, and different pressures on a person can result in different, sometimes counter-intuitive, actions and ideas. A victim's personality, their level of self-confidence before and after the victimization, the amount of support they have in recovery and the circumstances of the event itself can all have a huge impact on how they cope with it, before, during, and after, and while there may be a few [[FiveStagesOfGrief observable trends]], there is no pre-written script for dealing with loss, pain, suffering, and grief. A victim's reaction, no matter how bizarre, or passive, or self-destructive, is ''never'' an indication that they had it coming.
* In real life, personal morality, kindness, and a good attitude don't deflect random tragedies. Likewise, wild sex acts, excessive drug use, and acting like a prick don't invite them. Hurricanes are not summoned by gay sex, eating 6 servings of fruit every day will not ward off rapists, earthquakes are not caused by cleavage, and donating to the Salvation Army does not prevent cancer. We like to think that our day-to-day actions can dictate the course of our lives because it gives us a measure of control over what is often, to our limited perspective, a chaotic and unsympathetic world. We want good to be rewarded and evil to be punished, and that just plain doesn't happen unless we take it into our hands to do exactly that.
* Even in cases where there is a definite cause and effect relationship between the action and the tragedy, that ''still'' doesn't necessarily justify placing ''all'' blame upon the victim and their choice. For one example, their choice may well have been itself compromised, made ''for'' them by another person or by a situation, or otherwise not fully their own. Even if it ''was'' their complete and free choice to smoke or to be the receiver in an unprotected sex act or to live in an area prone to a specific disaster, for example, there's still an element of chance as to who falls victim to the tragedies and who does not. People who do the same exact things or take more or ''worse'' risks can survive unscathed, whereas others don't. It's often more constructive, in general, to focus on ''what'' happened and what can be done for it than ''why,'' especially in regard to something that truly can't be undone anyway, even ''if'' the person entirely accepted "their responsibility."
* Don't confuse cause and effect. A person doesn't deserve to have their home broken into because they didn't buy a security system, and ''not'' buying a security system didn't summon a criminal to their house. A person doesn't deserve to be raped because they didn't dress modestly, and ''not'' dressing modestly did not summon a rapist to their car. It's that cause-and-effect fallacy again; we want to reassure ourselves that the victim was responsible for their own misfortune because we want to believe that it won't happen to us. If we define a right and wrong course of action in order to classify the break-in or the rape as a ''reaction'', rather than ''an action taken by others over which we have no control'', we maintain the illusion that we are and will always be in control, and thus will never be made a victim.
** Secondary to this is the "failure to prevent" fallacy. A person who fails to sufficiently protect themselves from danger that they know exists is often blamed for their misfortune, because they are seen as having consciously taken a risk by exposing themselves to danger. This ignores any reason beyond outright hubris a person may have for being in such a risky situation (for instance, it doesn't account for being outright ''unaware'' of the danger), and places the blame on the victim by directly ''removing'' it from the perpetrator. Not only that, but the exact criteria for "optimal protection" widely differs in each person's opinion. For example, in the matter of sexual assault, when it comes to "non-provoking clothing", some people find a regular and decent T-Shirt with a pair of jeans doing the trick, other think that one must wear long and thick sleeves as to not expose anything other than their hands and head, a third faction thinks that one should be almost completely veiled (like women wearing burkas). Never mind that there are (still to this day) rape victims who were wearing clothes of each of these categories at the moment of the crime.
*** And tertiary to ''that'' is the "universal consent" fallacy, the idea that anyone who appears to want to have sex is offering themselves to ''literally anyone'', rather than exercising their right to consent or refuse sex at their discretion; most commonly, this is phrased as "She was asking for it". It is an open declaration that a person who wants to have sex is obligated to sexually service anyone who wants them to do so. Some have argued that this brand of InsaneTrollLogic is an extension of MenAreGenericWomenAreSpecial. Any woman seeking sex (or just ''looks'' like she is) is implicitly making herself available to ''any man'' or ''all men'', and her wants and desires are just her "being picky".
*** And a nasty DoubleStandard version of the "universal consent" fallacy centers around [[DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnMale male victims of rape as well]] -- when AManIsAlwaysEager becomes "universal consent," e.g. that ''simply by being male and present,'' one must want any and all sex that doesn't involve anal penetration by another male, and this is often paired with the NotIfTheyEnjoyedItRationalization. For example, a young teenage boy who is molested by a female teacher may well get blamed and demanded to take responsibility for ruining ''her'' life/getting her pregnant/initiating the "relationship," never mind that it was the teacher's responsibility to understand the boy wasn't a consenting adult and was therefore off limits, nor that the student may have been horribly scarred/traumatized from this unwanted experience.
*** Furthermore, there is the [[FridgeHorror unsettling fact]] that no crime or misfortune is 100% preventable. Carrying a weapon (lethal or nonlethal) ''can'' allow a victim to fight off an attacker, but there are a hundred different ways that an attempt at self-defense can be thwarted. Pepper spray can simply not work. Guns can miss or jam. Or the attacker could be armed as well. While suggesting that potential victims arm themselves is good advice[[note]]and people who do this should ''not'' be automatically vilified as "victim shamers"[[/note]], one should never, ever, '''ever''' write off a crime with "You should have been carrying mace/a gun/that katana/{{Noodle Implement|s}} I gave you last Christmas." '''Even if the victim ''had'' been prepared at the time of the attack, that is no guarantee the crime would have been prevented.'''
* Be careful with the words "You're just asking for it!" and "You brought it on yourself", because no one ever is. Unless someone is deliberately harming or violating the rights of others (and no, no one has the right to exist in a perfect vacuum where they never have to hear or see anything objectionable), they are not doing anything that gives those others the right to punish or retaliate against them. An intelligent being (or a group of intelligent beings) that presents a danger to others because of their intolerance does ''not'' mean that anyone they choose not to tolerate is "asking for it". Doing this holds the victim responsible for the behavior of the perpetrator, and absolves the perpetrator of being responsible for their own behavior. Unless the perpetrator is a very small child, a mindless animal, or otherwise mentally compromised, their inability to behave properly is no one's fault but their own.
** It also implies that the perpetrator has the understood right to deliberately harm another person, if that person meets certain criteria. An easy reference is any movie with an interracial romance where one partner is told they're "asking for trouble" because the other partner's family will have them killed if they found out; regardless of how ''likely'' the negative reaction will be, that doesn't mean it's the lover's fault for falling in love with the wrong person if the family decides to murder the lover, and it doesn't mean the family is morally justified in killing the lover because they don't approve of his or her race.
* As a final note, remember that in fiction, these can be flexible [[ItMakesSenseInContext when the right arrangement of narrative devices are in place]]; your volcano god may well be known to punish those who don't eat their vegetables with lightning bolts, your villain may have a legion of creepy baby-eaters to send out into the world to eat the children of smokers. The tone your work takes, and how it characterizes the events and the people involved, makes all the difference.
->[[TheStinger This page is, of course,]] ''[[TheStinger all your fault.]]'' [[TheStinger How could you? Huh? And after all we did for you!]]