THE BLOG

We Need To Stop Blaming The Victim

04/29/2013 11:34 EDT | Updated 06/29/2013 05:12 EDT

It is something the world has experienced since the beginning of time; every time an accident or an incident happens we rush to assign blame. We saw that most recently with the tragic Boston bombings. I felt that instead of focusing on the victims who were severely injured and died the first question officials were rushing to answer was "Who dun it?" while the second question was "Is everybody OK?"

The world seems to be turning into a more negative place. I don't challenge the fact that we are hungry for answers and with technology evolving at a rapid pace we are able to ask our questions and seek answers within seconds of an incident occurring. But we also appear to be rushing to conclusions without all the facts in front of us. The burning question on our collective minds is "Whose to blame for this happening?" whenever a story feels like a knife going through our hearts.

In our quest to get answers in record time, we seem to be frequently blaming victims more and more for what happens to them. The death of Rehtaeh Parsons has riveted the country and has made international headlines. In a recent blog post Parsons' father Glen Canning called out Christie Blatchford for suggesting Parsons actions led to her being victimized.

Several years ago I was the victim of constant verbal gay bashing that led to a mental breakdown. The first question the crisis worker asked me was "Have you ever considered not acting so flamboyant?" My reply was "Are you blaming me for being targeted?" and her reply was "I'm just saying maybe if you toned it down maybe they would be nicer to you." So in other words I brought on the homophobia for something beyond my control. Gotcha!

People with mental illness have been blamed for their own mistreatment for years. There's a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and I am proud to share my story and talk about it. But a lot of people who do are retaliated against more often then I'd like to admit. Sometimes it's a result of simply announcing they have mental illness, other times it's a result of displaying the symptoms associated with our mental illness.

Why does everything have to be about fault? When we're assigning blame why rush to blame somebody? I am sick and tired of hearing people saying, "Well maybe if they didn't do this or act like that then maybe they wouldn't be targeted." My book of personal pet peeves is thicker then the dictionary but you don't see me targeting people who have done questionable or even immoral things.

Instead of targeting people or making them feel guilty about something beyond their control lets have a discussion about it. Lets talk about why these things make us feel so uncomfortable. Knowledge is power and it could save lives. Instead of assigning blame lets not rush to judgement and allow the authorities to do a thorough job. I am all for accountable and while I am an advocate for public pressure we also need to put trust in those appointed to investigate.

Most importantly, lets stop blaming the victim!