One of these days I posted a video in Facebook that documented the abuse of a woman through the years (I have sadly forgotten the link) and a gentleman happily came over and said “She should get out”. Simply that, “she should get out”.
I wanted to fight but, I didn’t bother. Partly, because it would have been worthless to try and explain to him that it is not really easy for a victim of abuse to get up and leave. That severing the ties of a relationship that is so deeply embedded is not as easy as commenting on a Facebook post. The discussion that followed was quite lengthy and only thwarted by the fact that my best friend intervened and put in her word that instead of judging the victim, we should be judging the abuser and not being pricks who elbow in and try to portray themselves as better people than the victims.
The thing about victim blaming is, it is probably the most harmful thing that a person can suffer through after some traumatic experience with abuse. Imagine having to suffer through that level of trauma and then being told that you could have prevented it. Even if the person who is engaging in victim blaming does not really mean to safeguard the abuser in this case, he/she might be subjecting the victim to a far worse form of mental trauma; the one where they blame themselves.
See, it is not easy to get out of an abusive relationships. As Leslie Morgan speaks in her TED talk, abuse is not something that you can escape easily.
Leaving beside this fact, it is not really easy to walk out of that life. it is not easy to walk out on someone you loved and someone you thought would always be with you. A lot of people think that the abuser is only a person who expresses love in a somewhat “different way”, because they are taught to believe that version of reality. A lot of victims of abuse do not understand that they are in an abusive relationship until it is too late for them to walk out freely.
An abuse victim often cannot prosecute their abusers because no matter which country you are in the discrimination persists and favors the abusers. A lot of people (in the police no less) in India think that abuse (whether physical or sexual) comes as a baggage with the relationship. The abused female often thinks that they are not being abused, that their case is similar to thousands of women around the world and that they are wrong for “not being happy”.
When an abused person is to leave the abuser, she has to severe the ties with him completely, that means relocating and trying to find a new identity. This along with the baggage of trauma and nightmares that would pretty much remain throughout her life no matter how hard she tries. PTSD, depression, these things are common for the sufferers and with these baggage she has to re-build her life in the society from group up. She would probably have to live with the fact that she would become a favorite topic for starting conversations among friends and even though they would call her an inspiration, there would be no days that go by when their conversation would not involve a triggering reference to the life she has formerly left.
This is exactly why victim blaming needs to be stopped. It is fine to live by your ideals in your own time but, the thing is everyone else does not have the same luxury. It is not easy for a woman or a man to become little less that a conversation topic to their friends, it is harder for them to leave a man or woman they loved and were completely devoted to. It is much more harder to re-build everything that the abuser took away from you. So, do NOT stay in there and say that “She could have gotten out”, she could have, yes, she could have, but, it was not as easy as your action of pressing an Enter button after writing an offensive comment.
See, there is nothing wrong with having idealist, misinformed philosophies. You are allowed to have them and be happy. However, there is something inherently wrong when your philosophies hurt another person. Just because the world you so comfortably view with your tinted sunglasses is beautiful and pitch perfect, it does not mean that the same luxury is available to others.
It all comes down to a simple fact of privilege. A lot of us are privileged to have families that would not blink an eye before coming to our rescue when an abuser torments us. A lot of us live in a world where the people would respect us for our choices and our decisions. That is all fine with me. However, your privileged status does not reflect back on the world, just because you have a life where everything is perfect does not mean that same luxury would be extended to others. This happens with every movement when someone who is comfortable comes around to say that it is not necessary to fight anymore just because their world is perfect.
This is a dangerous thing we are facing if the feminists go down and engage in victim blaming. “Every man for himself” is an apt rule to follow, it is good even but, at the end of the day it is wrong to force that rule on others. It is wrong to say that a victim, a survivor could have done something to prevent the tragedy, that she could have gotten out. This pseudo-feminist tendency to support women only if they are beautiful or fit in the category of idols in the person’s worldview is something that needs to be stopped. Feminism means equality, and we need to support everyone out there, and there is something inherently wrong with us if we cannot support a victim without adding this baggage of “you could have gotten out” with our help.
It is not a perfect world out there, and no matter what our tinted glasses claim, it is not going to be one unless we strive much harder the achieve the same.