Abuse comes in many forms. Whether the abuse is emotional, financial, mental, physical, sexual, or verbal, abuse inflicts scars on victims.

Whether you have survived abuse or you are a family member, friend, or acquaintance of someone who has survived abuse, it is imperative that we know how to recognize abuse. But what if the abuse comes from someone who thinks that they are helping? What does that look like?
Revictimization  means to victimize someone again. One of the most common forms of revictimization is victim blaming. Asking a victim questions like: “Why they stay?,” “Why they did not tell someone?,” “Why they went to that party?,” or “Why they were drinking?” are all examples of how someone who might be trying to help can make the victim feel like they are at fault for their abuse.
Revictimization comes from lack of education regarding intimate partner violence. Unfortunately, victims become revictimized by more than just family and friends who think that they are helping. Revictimization often comes from law enforcement and the justice system. Every time that a perpetrator gets away with hurting a victim, it reinforces the idea that the victim is somehow the problem or at fault. When victims are arrested for trying to defend themselves because law enforcement cannot determine the main aggressor, it sends a message that the abuser still has all the power.
Victims of intimate partner violence become revictimized in open court when they are forced to share their story of abuse in front of a room full of strangers. When they lose custody of their children just like their abusive partner told them that they would. When they have to leave their home and all of their belongings behind because it is not safe for them anymore, they are revictimized.
We need to have a radical change in the way that intimate partner violence is interpreted in the legal system. We need to have a drastic turnaround of how we question victims and perpetrators. Victims never ask for the abuse. Abusers commit crimes against their victims, and they need to be held accountable for the abuse. Abuse cannot happen without an abuser present.
How do we change this conversation? How can we make a difference in how victims are treated by everyone? We start by acknowledging that lack of understanding is perpetuating violence in our communities. We accept responsibility for learning how we can get involved with changing outcomes for victims of intimate partner violence. We take a stand for that change.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress in 1994 started making changes on how the criminal justice system worked with services to be provided to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Since passing in 1994 VAWA has been reauthorized with updates and changes in 2000, 2005, and 2013. VAWA contributes resources to law enforcement agencies, the criminal justice system, colleges, tribal communities, LGBTQ victims, victims with disabilities, and countless other services for victims of intimate partner violence. Change can be as simple as insuring that you are educated about who you vote into office. Make sure you know if they support VAWA reauthorization.
If you are someone you know are/or have been a victim of intimate partner violence, Crisis Services of North Alabama provides free confidential services. You do not have to continue living afraid and in abuse. There are services to help deal with the residual effects of surviving emotional, mental, physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. No one should have to face this alone. For more information on services or how you can get involved in our community please contact Crisis Services of North Alabama Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 or the HELPline 24/7 at 256.716.1000.

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