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Blaming the Victim

When people hear about bad things happening to people, they often try to make sense of it by asking themselves questions such as “why did this happen?” or “how could such a thing happen?” A person hearing about a woman being raped, for example, might answer the why and how questions by supposing that she could have been dressed provocatively and, therefore, might have brought the rape on herself. That person is engaging in victim blaming. When the victim herself begins to ask the why and how questions, she might also blame herself, and this self-blame can make it harder for her to adjust to the traumatic event. Both of these blaming responses confuse the purported cause of the traumatic experience with responsibility for its ...

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