Victim blaming

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Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. [1] The study of victimology seeks to mitigate the prejudice against victims, and the perception that victims are in any way responsible for the actions of offenders. [2] There is historical and current prejudice against the victims of domestic violence and sex crimes, such as the greater tendency to blame victims of rape than victims of robbery if victims and perpetrators knew each other prior to the commission of the crime. [3]

Crime unlawful act forbidden and punishable by criminal law

In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state. Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

Victimology study of victimization

Victimology is the study of victimization, including the psychological effects on victims, relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system—that is, the police and courts, and corrections officials—and the connections between victims and other social groups and institutions, such as the media, businesses, and social movements.

Domestic violence pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another

Domestic violence is violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. It may be termed intimate partner violence when committed by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner, and can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, or between former spouses or partners. Domestic violence can also involve violence against children, parents, or the elderly. It takes a number of forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, reproductive, and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse such as choking, beating, female genital mutilation, and acid throwing that results in disfigurement or death. Domestic murders include stoning, bride burning, honor killings, and dowry deaths.


Coining of the phrase

Psychologist William Ryan coined the phrase "blaming the victim" in his 1971 book of that title. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] In the book, Ryan described victim blaming as an ideology used to justify racism and social injustice against black people in the United States. [7] Ryan wrote the book to refute Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1965 work The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (usually simply referred to as the Moynihan Report). [9]

William Ryan (psychologist)

William J. Ryan, Jr. was a psychologist and author best known for his criticism of "blaming the victim" first published in his 1971 book of the same title. Ryan's work is considered a major structuralist rebuttal to the Moynihan Report. Moynihan's report had placed most of the blame for African-American poverty rates on the rise of single-parent households rather than on racism and discrimination, while Ryan's response was that Moynihan was blaming victims for their victimhood. Ryan spent the majority of his career at Boston College.

An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons. In other words, these rely on basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis. The term is especially used to describe systems of ideas and ideals which form the basis of economic or political theories and resultant policies. In these there are tenuous causal links between policies and outcomes owing to the large numbers of variables available, so that many key assumptions have to be made. In political science the term is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems

Racism race or ethnic-based discrimination

Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity. The use of the term "racism" does not easily fall under a single definition.

Moynihan had concluded that three centuries of oppression of black people, and in particular with what he calls the uniquely cruel structure of American slavery as opposed to its Latin American counterparts, had created a long series of chaotic disruptions within the black family structure which, at the time of the report, manifested itself in high rates of unwed births, absent fathers, and single mother households in black families. Moynihan then correlated these familial outcomes, which he considered undesirable, to the relatively poorer rates of employment, educational achievement, and financial success found among the black population. Moynihan advocated the implementation of government programs designed to strengthen the black nuclear family.[ citation needed ]

A nuclear family, elementary family or conjugal family is a family group consisting of two parents and their children. It is in contrast to a single-parent family, the larger extended family, and a family with more than two parents. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple; the nuclear family may have any number of children. There are differences in definition among observers; some definitions allow only biological children that are full-blood siblings, but others allow for a stepparent and any mix of dependent children including stepchildren and adopted children.

Ryan objected that Moynihan then located the proximate cause of the plight of black Americans in the prevalence of a family structure in which the father was often sporadically, if at all, present, and the mother was often dependent on government aid to feed, clothe, and provide medical care for her children. Ryan's critique cast the Moynihan theories as attempts to divert responsibility for poverty from social structural factors to the behaviors and cultural patterns of the poor. [10] [11]

In law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to an injury that the courts deem the event to be the cause of that injury. There are two types of causation in the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate cause. Cause-in-fact is determined by the "but for" test: But for the action, the result would not have happened. The action is a necessary condition, but may not be a sufficient condition, for the resulting injury. A few circumstances exist where the but for test is ineffective. Since but-for causation is very easy to show, a second test is used to determine if an action is close enough to a harm in a "chain of events" to be legally valid. This test is called proximate cause. Proximate cause is a key principle of Insurance and is concerned with how the loss or damage actually occurred. There are several competing theories of proximate cause. For an act to be deemed to cause a harm, both tests must be met; proximate cause is a legal limitation on cause-in-fact.

Social class in the United States

Social class in the United States is a group of American individuals who occupy a similar position in the economic system of production. The concept is a controversial issue, having many competing definitions, models, and even disagreements over its very existence. Many Americans believe that in the country there are just three classes: the American rich; the American middle class; the American poor. More complex models that have been proposed describe as many as a dozen class levels; while still others deny the very existence, in the European sense, of social class in American society. Most definitions of class structure group people according to wealth, income, education, type of occupation, and membership in a specific subculture or social network. Most of the social classes entirely ignore the existence of parallel Black, Hispanic and minorities societies.


Although Ryan popularized the phrase, other scholars had identified the phenomenon of victim blaming. [12] In 1947 Theodor W. Adorno defined what would be later called "blaming the victim," as "one of the most sinister features of the Fascist character". [13] [14] Shortly thereafter Adorno and three other professors at the University of California, Berkeley formulated their influential and highly debated F-scale (F for fascist), published in The Authoritarian Personality (1950), which included among the fascist traits of the scale the "contempt for everything discriminated against or weak." [15] A typical expression of victim blaming is the "asking for it" idiom, e.g. "she was asking for it" said of a victim of violence or sexual assault. [16]

Theodor W. Adorno German philosopher and sociologist, 1903–1969

Theodor W. Adorno was a German philosopher, sociologist, psychologist and composer known for his critical theory of society.

Fascism Form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism

Fascism is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

Secondary victimization of sexual assault victims

Hundreds gathered at the Alberta Legislature grounds in Edmonton to protest against victim blaming Marcha das Vadias.jpg
Hundreds gathered at the Alberta Legislature grounds in Edmonton to protest against victim blaming

Secondary victimization is the re-traumatization of the sexual assault, abuse, or rape victim through the responses of individuals and institutions. Types of secondary victimization include victim blaming, disbelieving the victim's story, minimizing the severity of the attack, and inappropriate post-assault treatment by medical personnel or other organizations. [17] Secondary victimization is especially common in cases of drug-facilitated, acquaintance, military sexual trauma and statutory rape.[ citation needed ]

Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. Trauma may result from a single distressing experience or recurring events of being overwhelmed that can be precipitated in weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences.

Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. It is a form of sexual violence which includes rape, groping, child sexual abuse or the torture of the person in a sexual manner.

Medical ethics system of moral principles of the practice of medicine

Medical ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values to the practice of clinical medicine and in scientific research. Medical ethics is based on a set of values that professionals can refer to in the case of any confusion or conflict. These values include the respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. Such tenets may allow doctors, care providers, and families to create a treatment plan and work towards the same common goal. It is important to note that these four values are not ranked in order of importance or relevance and that they all encompass values pertaining to medical ethics. However, a conflict may arise leading to the need for hierarchy in an ethical system, such that some moral elements overrule others with the purpose of applying the best moral judgement to a difficult medical situation.

Sexual assault victims experience stigmatization based on rape myths.[ citation needed ] A female rape victim is especially stigmatized in patrilineal cultures with strong customs and taboos regarding sex and sexuality. For example, a society may view a female rape victim (especially one who was previously a virgin) as "damaged". Victims in these cultures may suffer isolation, physical and psychological abuse, slut-shaming, public humiliation rituals, be disowned by friends and family, be prohibited from marrying, be divorced if already married, or even be killed. [18] However, even in many developed countries, including some sectors of United States society, misogyny remains culturally ingrained. [19] [20] [21]

One example of a sexist allegation against female victims of sexual assault is that wearing provocative clothing stimulates sexual aggression in men who believe that women wearing body-revealing clothes are actively trying to seduce a sexual partner. Such accusations against victims stem from the assumption that sexually revealing clothing conveys consent for sexual actions, irrespective of willful verbal consent. Research has yet to prove that attire is a significant causal factor in determining who is assaulted. [22] [23]

Victim blaming is also exemplified when a victim of sexual assault is found at fault for performing actions which reduce their ability to resist or refuse consent, such as consuming alcohol. [24] Victim advocacy groups and medical professionals are educating young adults on the definition of consent, and the importance of refraining from victim blaming. Most institutions have adopted the concept of affirmative consent and that refraining from sexual activity while under the influence is the safest choice. [25]

In efforts to discredit alleged sexual assault victims in court, a defense attorney may delve into an accuser's personal history, a common practice that also has the purposeful effect of making the victim so uncomfortable they choose not to proceed. This attack on character, especially one pointing out promiscuity, makes the argument that women who lead "high risk" lifestyles (promiscuity, drug use) are not real victims of rape. [26]

Findings on Rape Myth Acceptance have supported feminist claims that sexism is at the root of female rape victim blaming. [27]

A 2009 study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence of male victims of sexual assault concludes that male rape victim blaming is usually done so because of social constructs of masculinity. [28] Some effects of these kind of rape cases include a loss of masculinity, confusion about their sexual orientation, and a sense of failure in behaving as men should. [29]

Victims of an unwanted sexual encounter usually develop psychological problems such as depression or sexual violence specific PTSD known as rape trauma syndrome. [30] [31]

Ideal victim

An ideal victim is one who is afforded the status of victimhood due to unavoidable circumstances that put the individual at a disadvantage. One can apply this theory to any crime including and especially sexual assault. Nils Christie, a Norwegian criminology professor, has been theorizing about the concept of the ideal victim since the 1980s. In his research he gives two examples, one of an old woman who is attacked on her way home from visiting her family and the other of a man who is attacked at a bar by someone he knew. He describes the old woman as an ideal victim because she could not avoid being in the location that she was, she did not know her attacker, and she could not fight off her attacker. The man, however, could have avoided being at a bar, knew his attacker, and should have been able to fight off his attacker, being younger and a man. [32]

When applying the ideal victim theory to sexual assault victims, often judicial proceedings define an ideal victim as one who resists their attacker and exercises caution in risky situations, despite law reforms to extinguish these fallacious requirements. [33] When victims are not ideal they are at risk for being blamed for their attack because they are not considered real victims of rape. Because they do not fit the criteria being laid out in the rape law, they cannot be considered real victims and thereby their attacker will not be prosecuted. [34]

A victim who is not considered an ideal, or real victim, is one who leads a "high risk" lifestyle, partaking in drugs or alcohol, or is perceived as promiscuous. A victim who intimately knows their attacker is also not considered an ideal victim. Examples of a sexual assault victim who is not ideal is a prostitute because they lead a high risk lifestyle. The perception is that these behaviors discount the credibility of a sexual assault victim's claim or that the behaviors and associations create the mistaken assumption of consent. Some of or all of the blame of the assault is then placed on these victims, and so they are not worthy of having their case presented in court. These perceptions persist in court rulings despite a shift in laws favoring affirmative consent- meaning that the participants in a sexual activity give a verbal affirmation rather than one participant who neither answers negatively nor positively. In other words, affirmative consent is yes means yes and no means no. [35]

In addition to an ideal victim, there must be an ideal perpetrator for a crime to be considered ideal. The ideal attacker does not know their victim and is a completely non-sympathetic figure- one who is considered sub-human, an individual lacking morals. An attacker that knows their victim is not considered an ideal attacker, nor is someone who seems morally ordinary. [32] Cases of intimate partner violence are not considered ideal because the victim knows their attacker. Husbands and wives are not ideal victims or perpetrators because they are intimately familiar with each other. [35]

Global situation

Many different cultures across the globe have formulated different degrees of victim blaming for different scenarios such as rape, hate crimes, and domestic abuse. Victim blaming is common around the world, especially in cultures where it is socially acceptable and advised to treat certain groups of people as lesser. For example, in Somalia victims of sexual abuse consistently endure social ostracization and harassment.[ citation needed ] One specific example is the kidnapping and rape of 14-year old Fatima: when the police arrived, both Fatima and her rapist were arrested. While they did not detain the offender for long, the officers held Fatima captive for a month and a prison guard continually raped her during that time. [36]

In February 2016, the organisations International Alert and UNICEF published a study revealing that girls and women released from captivity by Nigeria's insurgency group Boko Haram often face rejection by their communities and families. Their children born of sexual violence faced even more discrimination. [37]

Acid attacks on South Asian women, when people throw acid on women in an attempt to punish them for their perceived wrongdoings, are another example of victim-blaming. For instance, in New Delhi in 2005, a group of men threw acid on a 16-year-old girl because they believed she provoked the advances of a man. [38] In Chinese culture, victim blaming is often associated with the crime of rape, as women are expected to resist rape using physical force. Thus, if rape occurs, it is considered to be at least partly the woman’s fault and her virtue is inevitably called into question. [39]

In Western culture victim blaming has been largely recognized as a problematic way to view a situation, however this does not exempt Westerners from being guilty of the action. A recent example of Western victim blaming would be a civil trial held in 2013 where the Los Angeles School District blamed a 14-year-old girl for the sexual abuse she endured from her middle school teacher. The District's lawyer argued that the minor was responsible for the prevention of the abuse, putting the entire fault on the victim and exempting the perpetrator of any responsibility. Despite his efforts to convince the court that the victim must be blamed, the ruling stated that no minor student that has been sexually assaulted by his or her teacher is responsible for the prevention of that sexual assault. [40]

Opposing views

Roy Baumeister, a social and personality psychologist, argued that blaming the victim is not necessarily always fallacious. He argued that showing the victim's possible role in an altercation may be contrary to typical explanations of violence and cruelty, which incorporate the trope of the innocent victim. According to Baumeister, in the classic telling of "the myth of pure evil," the innocent, well-meaning victims are going about their business when they are suddenly assaulted by wicked, malicious evildoers. Baumeister describes the situation as a possible distortion by both the perpetrator and the victim; the perpetrator may minimize the offense while the victim maximizes it, and so accounts of the incident shouldn't be immediately taken as objective truths.

In context, Baumeister refers to the common behavior of the aggressor seeing themselves as more of the "victim" than the abused, justifying a horrific act by way of their "moral complexity". This usually stems from an "excessive sensitivity" to insults, which he finds as a consistent pattern in abusive husbands. Essentially, the abuse the perpetrator administers is generally excessive, in comparison to the act/acts that they claim as to have provoked them. [41]

Horseshoe theory and nonpolarized views

Some scholars make the argument that some of the attitudes that are described as victim blaming and the victimologies that are said to counteract them are both extreme and similar to each other, an example of the horseshoe theory. For instance, they argue that the claim that "women wearing provocative clothing cause rape" is as demeaning to men as it is to women as depicting men as incapable of controlling their sexual desire is misandrist and denies men full agency, while also arguing that the generalization that women do not lie about rape (or any generalization about women not doing some things because of their gender) is misogynist by its implicit assumption that women act by simple default action modes which is incompatible with full agency. These scholars argue that it is important to impartially assess the evidence in each criminal trial individually and that any generalization based on statistics would change the situation from one where the control of evidence makes false reporting difficult to one where lack of individual control of the alleged crime makes it easier to file false reports and that statistics collected in the former situation would not be possible to apply to the latter situation. While the scholars make a distinction between actual victim blaming and rule by law that they consider to be falsely lumped with victim blaming in radical feminist rhetorics, they also advocate more protection from ad hominem questions to alleged victims about past life history and that the questions should focus on what is relevant for the specific alleged crime. They also cite examples that they consider to be cases of the horseshoe theory applied to the question of victim blaming. This includes cases in which psychologists who have testified on behalf of the prosecution in trials in which breast size have been used as a measure of female age when classifying pornographic cartoons as child pornography and been praised by feminists for it, and later the same psychologists have used the same psychological arguments when testifying on behalf of the defense in statutory rape cases and getting the defendant acquitted by claiming that the victim's breasts looked like those of an adult woman (considered by these scholars to be victim blaming based on appearance) and been praised by men's rights groups for it. It also includes the possibility that biopsychiatric models that consider sexual criminality hereditary and that are advocated by some feminists may blame victims of incest abuse for being genetically related to their abusers and thereby dissuading them from reporting abuse. [42] [43]

Other analysts of victim blaming discourse who neither support most of the phenomena that are described as victim blaming nor most of the measures that are marketed as countermeasures against such point at the existence of other ways of discovering and punishing crimes with victims besides the victim reporting the crime. Not only are there police patrols and possible eyewitnesses, but these analysts also argue that neighbors can overhear and report crimes that take place within the house such as domestic violence. For that reason along with the possibility of many witnesses turning up over time if the crime is ongoing long term as domestic abuse is generally said to be which would make some of the witnesses likely to be considered believable, analysts of this camp of thought argue that the main problem that prevent crimes from being successfully prosecuted is offender profiling that disbelieve the capacity and/or probability of many criminals to commit the crime, rather than disbelief or blaming of victim reports. These analysts cite international comparisons that show that the percentage of male on female cases in the statistics of successfully prosecuted domestic violence is not higher in countries that apply gender feminist theories about patriarchal structures than in countries that apply supposedly antifeminist evolutionary psychology profiling of sex differences in aggressiveness, impulse control and empathy, arguing that the criminal justice system prioritizing cases in which they believe the suspect most likely to be guilty makes evolutionary psychology at least as responsible as gender feminism for leaving domestic violence cases with female offenders undiscovered no matter if the victim is male or female. The analysts argue that many problems that are often attributed to victim blaming are instead due to offender profiling, and suggest randomized investigations instead of psychological profiling of suspected offenders. [44] [45]


A myth holds that Jews went passively "like sheep to the slaughter" during the Holocaust, which is considered by many writers, including Emil Fackenheim, to be a form of victim blaming. [46] Secondary antisemitism is a type of antisemitism caused by non-Jewish Europeans' attempts to shift blame for the Holocaust onto the Jews, often summed up by the claim that "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz." [47]

Leigh Leigh, born Leigh Rennea Mears, was a 14-year-old girl from Fern Bay, Australia, who was murdered on 3 November 1989. While attending a 16-year-old boy's birthday party at Stockton Beach, Leigh was assaulted by a group of boys after she returned distressed from a sexual encounter on the beach that a reviewing judge later called non-consensual. After being kicked and spat on by the group, Leigh left the party. Her naked body was found in the sand dunes nearby the following morning, with severe genital damage and a crushed skull. Leigh's murder received considerable attention in the media. Initially focusing on her sexual assault and murder, media attention later concentrated more on the lack of parental supervision and the drugs and alcohol at the party, and on Leigh's sexuality. The media coverage of the murder has been cited as an example of victim blaming. [48] :131

In a case that became infamous in 2011, an 11-year-old female rape victim who suffered repeated gang rapes in Cleveland, Texas, was accused by a defense attorney of being a seductress who lured men to their doom. [49] "Like the spider and the fly. Wasn't she saying, 'Come into my parlor', said the spider to the fly?", he asked a witness. [49] The New York Times ran an article uncritically reporting on the way many in the community blamed the victim, for which the newspaper later apologized. [49] [50]

In a case that attracted worldwide coverage, when a woman was raped and killed in Delhi in December 2012, some Indian government officials and political leaders blamed the victim for various things, mostly based on conjecture. Many of the people involved later apologized. [51]

In recent years, the issue of victim blaming has gained notoriety and become widely recognized in the media, particularly in the context of feminism, as women have often been blamed for behaving in ways that encourage harassment.

In 2016, in the wake of New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany, the mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker came under heavy criticism, as her response appeared to blame the victims. She called for women to follow a "code of conduct," including staying at an "arm's length" from strangers. [52] By the evening of 5 January, #einearmlänge ("an arm's length") became one of Germany's top-trending hashtags on Twitter. [53] Reker called a crisis meeting with the police in response to the incidents. [54] [55] Reker called it "completely improper" to link the perpetrators to refugees. [56]

Coverage of the 2016 Murder of Ashley Ann Olsen, an American murdered in Italy during a sexual encounter with a Senegalese immigrant, focused on the victim blaming in cross-cultural encounters. [57] [58]

In August 2017, the hashtag #AintNoCinderella trended on social media India, in response to a high-profile instance of victim-blaming. After Varnika Kundu was stalked and harassed by two men on her way home late at night, Bharatiya Janata Party Vice President Ramveer Bhatti addressed the incident with a claim that Kundu was somehow at fault for being out late by herself. Social media users took to Twitter and Instagram to challenge the claim that women should not be out late at night, and if they are, they are somehow "asking for it". Hundreds of women shared photos of themselves staying out past midnight, dressing boldly, and behaving in (harmless) ways that tend to be condemned in old-fashioned, anti-feminist ideology. [59]

See also


  1. "Victim Blaming" (PDF). Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  2. Fox, K. A.; Cook, C. L. (2011). "Is Knowledge Power? The Effects of a Victimology Course on Victim Blaming". Journal of Interpersonal Violence . 26 (17): 3407–3427. doi:10.1177/0886260511403752. PMID   21602202.
  3. Bieneck, S.; Krahe, B. (2010). "Blaming the Victim and Exonerating the Perpetrator in Cases of Rape and Robbery: Is There a Double Standard?". Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 26 (9): 1785–97. doi:10.1177/0886260510372945. PMID   20587449.
  4. Ryan, William (1971). Blaming the Victim. ISBN   9780394417264.
  5. Cole (2007) pp.111, 149, 213
  6. Downs (1998) p. 24
  7. 1 2 Kirkpatrick (1987) p. 219
  8. Kent (2003)
  9. "(1965) The Moynihan Report: The Negro Family, the Case for National Action • BlackPast". 21 January 2007. Archived from the original on 18 March 2017.
  10. Illinois state U. archives Archived 4 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine .
  11. Ryan, William (1976). Blaming the Victim. Vintage. ISBN   978-0-394-72226-9.[ page needed ]
  12. Robinson (2002) p.141
  13. Adorno, TW (1947) Wagner, Nietzsche and Hitler in Kenyon Review Vol.ix (1), p. 158
  14. James Martin Harding (1997) Adorno and "A writing of the ruins": essays on modern aesthetics and Anglo-American literature and culture, p.143 quotation: "The mechanisms of this ideological affinity between Baraka and Wagner can be seen in a short critique of Wagner that Adorno wrote directly after the Second World War—at a time when Adorno was perhaps his most direct in singling out the proto-fascist tendencies in Wagner's corpus and character. Adorno criticizes Wagner's having bated his conductor Herman Levi so that he would seem to bear the responsibility for Wagner's subsequent insulting dismissal of him. This, for Adorno, is a classic example of blaming the victim. The anti-Semitic sub-text to the dismissal, viz., that as a Jew Levi supposedly desired and brought the dismissal upon himself, "bears witness to the existence of one of the most sinister features of the Fascist character even in Wagner's time: the paranoid tendency of projecting upon others one's own violent aggressiveness and then indicting, on the basis of this projection, those whom one endows with pernicious qualities" (Adorno "Wagner, Nietzsche and Hitler" 158)."
  15. Adorno and the political By Espen Hammer p.63
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  25. "Myths and Facts About Sexual Assault and Consent". Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
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  27. Suarez, E.; Gadalla, T. M. (2010). "Stop Blaming the Victim: A Meta-Analysis on Rape Myths". Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 25 (11): 2010–2035. doi:10.1177/0886260509354503. PMID   20065313.
  28. "Male Rape Victim and Perpetrator Blaming". Sage Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Sage Journal Publications. Retrieved 23 July 2015. A man who fails to physically overcome his attacker is likewise seen as contributing to his own victimization; he must have secretly wanted it.
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Related Research Articles

A significant proportion of victims of rape or other sexual violence incidents are male. Historically, rape was thought to be, and defined as, a crime committed solely against women. This belief is still held in some parts of the world, but rape of males is now commonly criminalized and has been subject to more discussion than it was in the past.

Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person's sexuality, regardless of the relationship to the victim. It occurs in times of peace and armed conflict situations, is widespread and is considered to be one of the most traumatic, pervasive, and most common human rights violations.

Gang rape

Gang rape occurs when a group of people participate in the rape of a single victim. Rape involving at least two or more violators is reported throughout the world. Systematic information and statistics on the extent of the problem is limited.

Rape culture a society in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality

Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these. It has been used to describe and explain behavior within social groups, including prison rape and in conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire societies have been alleged to be rape cultures.

Date rape is a form of acquaintance rape and dating violence. The two phrases are often used interchangeably, but date rape specifically refers to a rape in which there has been some sort of romantic or potentially sexual relationship between the two parties. Acquaintance rape also includes rapes in which the victim and perpetrator have been in a non-romantic, non-sexual relationship, for example as co-workers or neighbors. Date rape is particularly prevalent on college campuses, where it frequently occurs in situations involving alcohol or other date rape drugs, which may facilitate the execution of drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA).

Rape can be categorized in different ways: for example, by reference to the situation in which it occurs, by the identity or characteristics of the victim, and by the identity or characteristics of the perpetrator. These categories are referred to as types of rape. The types of rape described below are not mutually exclusive: a given rape can fit into multiple categories, by for example by being both a prison rape and a gang rape, or both a custodial rape and the rape of a child.

Rape by gender classifies types of rape by the sex or gender of both the rapist and the victim. This scope includes both rape and sexual assault more generally. Most research indicates that rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men; however, since the broadening of the definition of rape in 2012 by the FBI, more attention is being given to male rape, including females raping males.

Surviving a rape is a traumatic experience that impacts its victims in a physical, psychological, and sociological way. Even though the effects and aftermath of rape differentiates among survivors, individuals tend to suffer from similar issues found within these three categories. Long term reactions may involve the development of coping mechanisms that will either benefit the survivor, such as social support, or inhibit their recovery. Seeking support and professional resources may assist the survivor in numerous ways. 

Statistics on rape and other sexual assaults are commonly available in industrialized countries, and are becoming more common throughout the world. Inconsistent definitions of rape, different rates of reporting, recording, prosecution and conviction for rape create controversial statistical disparities, and lead to accusations that many rape statistics are unreliable or misleading. In some jurisdictions, male-female rape is the only form of rape counted in the statistics. Countries may not define forced sex on a spouse as "rape". Rape is a severely under-reported crime with surveys showing dark figures of up to 91.6% of rapes going unreported. Prevalence of reasons for not reporting rape differ across countries. They may include fear of retaliation, uncertainty about whether a crime was committed or if the offender intended harm, not wanting others to know about the rape, not wanting the offender to get in trouble, fear of prosecution, and doubt in local law enforcement.

Rape type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse without consent

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.

Causes of sexual violence are debated and explanations of the cause include military conquest, socioeconomics, anger, power, sadism, sexual pleasure, psychopathy, ethical standards, laws, attitudes toward the victims, and evolutionary pressures.

Initiatives to prevent sexual violence

As sexual violence affects all parts of society, the responses that arise to combat it are comprehensive, taking place on the individual, administrative, legal, and social levels. These responses can be categorized as:

Victimisation is the process of being victimised or becoming a victim. The field that studies the process, rates, incidence, effects, and prevalence of victimisation is called victimology.

People with intellectual disabilities can be both the victims and perpetrators of sexual violence, including child sexual abuse. Prevalence rates of sexual violence against people with intellectual disabilities are high when compared with the experience of the general population. Whilst people with intellectual disabilities experience sexual violence in many of the same ways as the general population, they may encounter additional issues relating to their impairments and the social environments in which they live. These can include increased vulnerability, questions around ability to consent to sexual activities, differential treatment before the law, social attitudes about intellectual disability and sexuality, and restricted access to suitable support and recovery services.

Violence against men (VAM), consists of violent acts that are disproportionately or exclusively committed against men. Men are overrepresented as both victims and perpetrators of violence. Sexual violence against men is treated differently in any given society from that committed against women, and may be unrecognized by international law.

Sexual violence in Finland

The Nordic countries are often praised for their achievements on gender equality, yet Finland is European Union's second most violent country for women with 47 percent of Finnish women saying that they have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15 in 2012. Sexual violence is defined as the use of force or manipulation to get someone to engage in unwanted sexual activity without his or her consent. Such violence takes place in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, as well as outside intimate relationships. The victims of sexual violence are predominantly women, but 26 percent of Finnish men have experienced sexual harassment since their 15th birthday. All sexual offenses violate the basic right of sexual self-determination. In Finland, sexual violence and taking advantage of a person is always a crime, even if the assaulter was the victim's spouse, relative or their friend. Sexual offences include but are not limited to rape, forcing someone into a sexual act and taking sexual advantage of a person.

Unacknowledged rape is defined as a sexual experience that meets the legal requirements of rape, but is not labeled as rape by the victim. Instead, the victim may label the experience as "bad sex", a "miscommunication", or a regrettable "hook up." This response is more frequently recognized among victims of acquaintance rape, date rape or marital rape.

Rape myths are prejudicial, stereotyped and false beliefs about sexual assaults, rapists, and rape victims. They often serve to excuse sexual aggression, create hostility toward victims, and bias criminal prosecution.

After a sexual assault or rape, victims are often subjected to scrutiny and, in some cases, mistreatment. Victims undergo medical examinations and are interviewed by police. If there is a criminal trial, victims suffer a loss of privacy and their credibility may be challenged. Victims may also become the target of slut-shaming, abuse, social stigmatization, sexual slurs and cyberbullying.


Further reading