Is Self-Defense Victim-Blaming?
Self-defense is not victim blaming. Empowerment-based self-defense classes explicitly attribute responsibility for assault to perpetrators, not victims. Just because a woman is capable of defending herself does not mean that she is responsible for doing so.
Although self-defense training is frequently lumped in with other kinds of risk reduction advice (e.g. staying out of public spaces, traveling with a buddy, wearing modest clothing, or avoiding alcohol), it differs in important ways. Staying home, relying on others for protection all constrain women’s lives. Self-defense training, in contrast, expands women’s range of action, empowering them to make their own choices about where they go and what they do.
Some people have worried that women who learn self-defense may blame themselves if they are later unable to prevent an attack. However, research has found that women with self-defense training who experience a subsequent assault blame themselves no more or even less than women without self-defense training. Moreover, women who are raped but physically resist are actually less likely than other women to blame themselves for their assault.
From Jocelyn A. Hollander, Ph.D. University of Oregon,Women’s Self-Defense Frequently Asked Questions. September 15, 2014.
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