Why Do We Blame the Victim?

In November 2012 Tom Samson, father of two young children, was tragically killed while riding his bicycle. Tom was killed by a van. The van left the scene of the collision. The police told Tom’s wife that he had illegally went through a red light. Tom’s wife could not believe that Tom would run a red light on his bicycle. Also, she didn’t understand why the van involved would leave the scene unless the driver was somehow at fault for the collision. She did not, could not, accept the conclusion that Tom had run the red light. She hired a lawyer to look into the police investigation.

Turns out that the police were wrong. Tom did not go through a red light; he was stopped waiting to make left turn when he was struck and killed. The truth does not bring Tom back but his family knows that he did not cause his own death. Read the story here.

Why do we as a society tend to blame the victim? We see this in sex assault cases with comments like, “…look how she was dressed, she was asking for it.” Other examples include juries not finding in favour of injured victims. One reason for this phenomenon of blaming the victim is self preservation. If a person can disassociate herself from the victim she can think in her mind that the terrible thing can never happen to them. That the person who was injured, assaulted or killed was because that person did something that she would never do, so by blaming the victim she feels more secure. We need to keep this in mind and be aware of this tendency when we read the news. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of blaming the victim.

Kristian Bonn
Personal Injury Lawyer
Bonn Law Office