Victim Blaming: Why intimate partner violence continues to thrive

Victim Blaming: Why intimate partner violence continues to thrive

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In March 2022, a news story by Nation dubbed “How a domestic survivor died in an attack by new lover” brought to light the sad reality that befell Damackline Bonareri.

Damackline survived a knife stab in her first marriage but ended up being killed by her second husband, after a futile five-day re-conciliatory effort by friends and family.

It does not end there, after this story was aired, comments from people on social media revolved around blaming the survivor for what had happened to her.

To many, these comments might seem like people having ‘fun’ on social media, but their implications are more profound. It is from such comments that survivors of Intimate Partner Violence get fear of coming forward and reporting these cases and a much worse reality is that these comments not only attempt to justify Intimate Partner Violence but also normalize it. 

Unfortunately, Intimate Partner Violence is viewed as a private matter rather than a criminal matter requiring the involvement of law enforcement. This means that cases of intimate partner violence are mostly solved at home to avoid exposing the family’s dirty linen to the world.

This without a doubt is a very dangerous practice as the lives of survivors are forced to rest on mediation processes. The conclusions of these mediation processes are usually a plea to the survivor to change their behavior in order to not provoke their perpetrator.

When this happens, the survivor is at more risk of increasingly being violated because of their attempt to report the matter.

Blaming survivors does not hide violence, it only takes power from the survivors and puts it in the hands of the perpetrators, hence increasing violence.

We cannot continue blaming survivors of violence for being violated while looking for the most absurd reasons to cushion the perpetrators and let them go free. For this to change, we need to start by believing survivors of violence.

Finally, reporting pathways need to be restructured to focus on punishing the perpetrator and providing justice for the survivors instead of looking for reasons to justify why the survivor was violated.

In doing so, we will be creating a safe environment where speaking out against violence is not shamed but celebrated.