Music artist Megan Thee Stallion was injured early last month after she was shot in both feet. Many have taken to Twitter to express their opinions on the traumatic incident. Some Twitter users expressed their feelings about Megan hanging out with friends during the pandemic. Others have showcased genuine support for the rapper and her healing process over the past month online. Statements made on various sites by celebrities, fans, and news sources that blame Megan for her own injuries are prime examples of victim blaming.
In 2017, Franchesca Ramsey broke down the meaning of victim blaming in an episode of MTV's Decoded. Ramsey explained a 1966 psychological experiment conducted by Dr. Melvin Lerner. In the experiment, test subjects witnessed victims experience a series of electrical shocks. Lerner realized that when the test subjects had a low amount of control over the shocks, they formed a low opinion of the victim. In Ramsey's words, "When people couldn't help the person, they had to find a way to devalue them." This idea became the term coined by Dr. Lerner as "The Just World Hypothesis" or the "belief that the universe is morally fair and people get what they deserve."
This thought process is translated into many events we see throughout everyday life. When someone is abused physically, verbally, or emotionally, they are often asked what they could've done to prevent the situation or how they provoked their abuser. Having such a response lacks empathy and puts the victim in an uncomfortable position. Victims then feel the need to overcompensate when defending themselves, potentially leading to greater exposure to the situation, which they might not want. Partnered with that comes the potential for more backlash toward the victim. This cycle is similar to the recent events Megan Thee Stallion experienced.
Though she is a celebrity, the rapper's status doesn't excuse the turmoil she's currently facing for opening up about her trauma. The same goes for any person within our local, national, or international communities. If a person is able to have the courage to express what happened to them, they shouldn't have to face negativity for deciding to be honest. Simply because we aren't always aware of what it took for them to muster the courage to do so. For example, being honest might put them in a more dangerous situation with their aggressor. Reliving the moment while opening up could create more trauma for the victim. In turn, this could cause them to regress further or contemplate self-harm.Overall, it should be widely understood that it is never okay to blame others for things they can't control. Instead, our first reaction should be figuring out how we can help them or just being a listening ear to allow them to vent. No one wants to feel devalued. It is dehumanizing and can open up other wormholes of self-doubt, depression, anxiety, etc. So the next time you find yourself wanting to ask a million questions in justification of a horrible event, only ask one. Are you okay? Feelings are valid and meant to be felt. Allow the victim to express how they truly feel and then figure out ways to help them if you have the power to do so. If you don't, you can help them by pointing them towards someone who can provide the necessary resources to aid in their recovery. Consider the old saying, "treat others how you want to be treated," the next time you might find yourself in a situation like this. Do not allow negativity to overtake your ability to give someone empathy.