Wednesday, March 14, 2012

blaming the victim

This post is inspired by the pain I feel when I see women get blamed for the tragedies that happen in their lives, which they did not cause, they could not have prevented, and they are in no way responsible for.  It is meant to help women deal with other people's insensitive comments that might imply otherwise.

When something tragic happens in our life, the people around us will react according to how their own empathy and experience allows them to react.  We all have noticed that when a tragedy happens there are always those who blame the victim for what happened.  For instance, in my case, when I lost Adrian, I phoned my parents to tell them and the first thing that my dad said was "hopefully next time you won't exercise during pregnancy, where have you seen women exercise while pregnant, you were the only one", etc, and so on.

Whoa.  First of all, my OB said it was ok to exercise.  For all intents and purposes, I had a normal pregnancy at that time.  Second of all, if I thought there was something wrong with exercising, I would not have done it, dude.  Third of all, implying that it was my fault that Adrian died was the cruellest thing I have heard during those awful two weeks.  And my dad is a nice guy, who loves me very much.  I know where this came from.  He was scared.  He wanted his grandson as well, and he was scared and angry that this happened, and also probably to some extent uncomfortable with the randomness with which bad things strike us.

I am just writing this because it bears repeating:  we all get blamed for things that are not in our control, and it is an illogical response, but it comes from people's fear of the unpredictable.  Life randomly dishes out very bad things sometimes, and shit strikes where it wants to.  This is a hard concept to swallow, in particular for control freaks who think they can escape the randomness of the universe with careful planning.  This is why other people, terrified that a baby could die, blame the mother for not doing enough, whatever that enough might be.  They tell themselves that a baby's death is avoidable if only the mother did this or that, and in the process imply that they would be able to avert such tragedy by some responsible behaviour.  Along the same line, some women judge and place the blame on a rape victim, because they like to believe that rape is not a bad random thing that might happen to them, but rather something that the victim unwisely chose to bring upon herself.  This implies that rape only happens to some people who take the wrong steps somehow, and therefore that it would never happen to them because they would know how to avoid it.  Same thing with cancer victims, I have heard so many times "but he smoked..." even when it was not a cancer related to smoking.  It just makes us feel better to find a reason, and to reassure ourselves that life behaves in orderly, predictable patterns, where everyone gets what they deserve, as judged by somebody who makes no mistakes in judgement.

This is a developmental stage through which we only grow once we have encountered the random bad events ourselves and learned that hey, there was nothing at all, nothing nothing nothing we could have done to prevent it.  At the same time, we learn that quite often we get dealt a hand that we do not "deserve", whatever that means.  In other words, there is no cause and effect, and no preventing the bad outcome.

Do not listen to the voices of people who say otherwise.  If you could have prevented  the event, you would have.  If I had any clue that exercising would harm Adrian, I would have lied in bed for 40 weeks.  In any case, the OB says that it would have happened with or without exercise.  Despite that, sometimes I wonder if not exercising would have delayed the onset of the dilatation, and maybe help me bring the pregnancy to 20 weeks when I had an ultrasound scheduled, and perhaps the tragedy could have been averted.  Who knows.  I have reached a stage where these questions do not hurt anymore.  Now they just cruise through my head, in one lobe, out the other.

Now I'd better go sleep because it is painfully obvious from the quality of my writing that my brain is not functioning fully.  Only a couple of neurons are still awake, the others are all snoring.

1 comment:

  1. I have been pretty lucky not to have anyone in my life say anything along the lines of it being my fault Aidan died. I'm sorry your Dad said that to you. I'm sure it was very hurtful at the time.

    I always comment to people who blame themselves for their baby's death: the fact that your baby died is proof that you couldn't have prevented it, because if you could have saved him or her, you would have. Some things are just unknowable before hand.