When people want to believe that the world is just, and that bad things won’t happen to them, empathy can suffer.
Victim-blaming comes in many forms, and is oftentimes subtle and unconscious. It can apply to cases of rape and sexual assault, but also to more mundane crimes. Any time someone defaults to questioning what a victim could have done differently to prevent a crime, he or she is participating, to some degree, in the culture of victim-blaming.
While victim-blaming isn’t entirely universal, in some ways, it is a natural psychological reaction to crime. Not everyone who engages in victim-blaming explicitly accuses someone of failing to prevent what happened to them. In fact, in its more understated forms, people may not always realize they’re doing it. Something as simple as hearing about a crime and thinking you would have been more careful had you been in the victim’s shoes is a mild form of victim-blaming.
Holding victims responsible for their misfortune is partially a way to avoid admitting that something just as unthinkable could happen to you—even if you do everything “right.”
– Kayleigh Roberts
Read more: The Psychology of Victim-Blaming