We know the stereotypes, that only a certain type of woman gets treated badly by men. She must have “daddy issues”, “bad taste in men”, “low self-esteem”, “no standards”, be a “masochist”, “love the attention”, be “insecure”, “stupid”, “weak” and the list goes on.
People go to great lengths to find faults in women that they believe cause them to be mistreated by men. The victim-blaming that goes on towards women is insidious, as reflected in the kind of things people say to and about women who’ve been mistreated by men;
“What an idiot!”, “how couldn’t she have seen this coming?”, “she knew this was coming”, “why does she always go for such men?”, “she attracts such men” “she’ll never learn”, “why does she allow men to treat her this way?”.
The truth is, women aren’t to blame if men treat them badly. Men will treat any woman like shit; women with good relationships with their dad, who are wise, confident, intelligent and strong.
The narrative that only a particular type of woman ends up being mistreated by men and that it’s her fault, is a damaging lie. It falsely teaches women that they can avoid being treated badly, if they’re “good enough” and that only lesser women, women with “issues” are mistreated.
Women don’t expect to be treated badly because they believe they don’t fit the stereotype, so when they are, they feel ashamed because they’ve been taught they’re “better” than that; only “stupid” and “weak” women end up in toxic relationships.
When women experience toxic relationships with men, it becomes a part of her identity. She’s labelled a “doormat”, “stupid”, “weak” etc. it becomes a mark against her, not against the man that mistreats her. Women are judged harder for being mistreated, than the actual men who mistreat them.
Victim-blaming taught me I wasn’t worthy of a healthy type of love or relationship, those were rewards for women without “issues”, women who had something that I didn’t have, that made men treat them with care and respect. I believed there was something was inherently wrong with me that was causing men to mistreat me.
Blaming women for how men have chosen to mistreat them is so normalised, that I wasted years carrying a lot of shame and self-hatred. Shame did nothing to empower me, heal me or prevent me from entering more toxic relationships. Victim-blaming doesn’t work because victims aren’t the cause of the problem.
If there’s something I wish women could know, is that when men mistreat you, it has nothing to do with you. They’re either a dickhead or they’re not, you can’t make them treat you better. It’s always their decision. The blame, shame and guilt you feel, is a lie, that you’ve been conditioned to believe.