Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Crime and Victims

In the wake of Amy Lord's tragic murder in South Boston, a martial arts expert is offering free self-defense classes for women at his studio in my town. A generous offer and I am sure his intentions are good. However, a statement he made, which was reported in our local paper, prompted me to write this letter to the editor:

     In a front page article in Tuesday’s paper,  a reporter quotes a local martial arts expert as saying, in response to Amy Lord’s murder, “Another woman dead because she couldn’t defend herself.” I could not let that statement pass without comment. Ms. Lord is not dead because she couldn’t defend herself. She is dead because someone chose to murder her.
     Preparations and precautions are sensible, but a lack of them does not make a person responsible for a crime. No victim of crime is at fault for what befell him or her. The blame rests solely on the shoulders of the perpetrator or perpetrators. Ms. Lord died because of someone else’s actions. She is innocent.

Perhaps I should have been a bit more charitable and also mentioned that I was grateful for his willingness to help in his community. However, I stand firmly by what I did say: victims are not responsible for crimes, criminals are.

Another item came to my attention this week. A judge in England gave a 41 year old man a light sentence after he had sex with a 13 year old girl. The judge didn't send the perpetrator to jail, he sentenced him to probation, is requiring him to take a sexual offenders course and has banned him from having contact with children. This was because, according to reports, the judge said the girl was predatory, that she was sexually active and that she egged the man on.

Perhaps the girl did initiate sexual activity with this man or encourage him to go ahead. So?

If a child attempts to initiate sexual contact with an adult, no matter how aggressively, the adult has the responsibility to assume authority and insist the child stop such behavior.  The adult should then inform the child's parent and help in formulating a response. Such a response, in my humble opinion, should include professional psychological evaluation and treatment and increased supervision for the child.

However, if the adult responds sexually, they are commitng a crime and they are fully responsible for it.

Again, victims are never the ones at fault.

Let us remember:

It is not good to be partial to the wicked and
 so deprive the innocent of justice.
                                      The Bible, Proverbs 18:5

What examples of "victim blaming" have you come across?
Are there ways to put an end to it?



  1. There is a tendency to blame cancer patients for being diagnosed with cancer. While it may be "true" for someone who develops lung cancer as a result of smoking, most cancer patients did nothing to deserve the disease. In fact, there are many cases where someone smokes/smoked and never gets lung cancer while someone who never smoked is diagnosed with the disease. Regardless of the event, a victim should never be blamed. Well written, Melinda.

    1. I agree with your thoughts on cancer patients and other diseases. Thanks!

  2. Interesting point. While I think it can never hurt for a woman to know how to defend herself, there is no excuse for crime like that, and no matter what self defence skills you have it doesn't guarantee safety.

    1. Agreed on both points. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Excellent commentary, Melinda! It sickens me to hear of stories like this when victims get blamed, as if the perpetrator bears no responsibility for his or her actions. It's about the same as the times people say a woman "deserved" to get raped because of how she dressed, or like in your example, she flirted or was coming on to a man. And the man has no responsibility to exercise self-control and choose NOT to rape her???

    One recent event that just angers and exasperates me is the case with that horrible man, Castro, who kidnapped and abused those three women for 10 years - and the little girl for 6 years - he claimed he was NOT guilty as long as the death penalty was a possibility, but as soon as that was not an option - he admitted to everything and talked about how he had a sickness and blamed everyone else for how he was, and never really showed any remorse whatsoever.

    Really makes me wonder about our so-called "justice" system when a clearly guilty party can say he isn't guilty, and then change his plea to guilty as long as the punishment suits him - seems to me he should be charged with perjury!

    I can unfortunately relate to the cancer issue, too - at least regarding the fact that my mom never smoked, yet she died from lung cancer in 2011.

    I wish there was a way to put an end to these kinds of things, but this side of Heaven, I don't think it will happen!

    1. Yes, this side of Heaven, all kinds of things go on. Sorry to hear about your Mom.

  4. I can't agree with you enough. I've often spoken out against victim blaming, which happens so often in cases of rape and sexual assault. "She shouldn't have been wearing that" or "Don't drink at a party" or "Don't walk around at night" are all excuses I've heard in addition to not knowing defense techniques, and it makes me so ANGRY every single time. I've gotten to the point of tears and shaking before, having to defend a woman's right to simply *exist* without fearing for her safety at every turn. It's awful, and I'm glad people are talking about it.

    1. Sexual assault does seem to be a fertile ground for victim blaming. It angers me, too.