Victim Blaming

Image is the head of a young person. Her head is surrounded by hands and she is looking on very stressed. The caption reads – Stop Victim Blaming

I once worked in an organization that loved to blame the victim. The organisation were not particularly good at self-reflection. If a worker was struggling it was the workers fault. The workers were unprofessional or they were tardy. They were irresponsible or they were liars. There could be no other underlying reason. It was the workers fault and that was it. I once looked on in horror as my senior colleague accused a worker being lazy and of making excuses so that they could get home early. The worker wanted to leave eight minutes early so that she could pick up her child for an appointment. Said my senior colleague, ” I told her NO! She has only been here for a few weeks and she doesn’t have the time in hand. She will hate me, but I don’t care!” The senior senior said this with a haughty air of superiority. To my horror my fellow seniors concurred. There is a reason I am not working there now.

When someone is not performing at work there can be any number of reasons. They could be receiving a lack of support. There may be troubles at home. There may have been rapid changes in processes that the worker has found hard to adapt to. They may have misunderstood information because English is their second language. They may have episodic mental health issues that they are too frightened to disclose. There are a myriad of reasons and a good workplace looks deeply into reasons for underperformance. A bad and unaccountable workplace blames the victim.

And you know, if you have a disability, if something is not going right, the disability is blamed. If a deaf person hasn’t understood, its because they’re deaf. It couldn’t possibly be because information was badly presented could it? It couldn’t possibly be because a process has been badly designed, could it? It couldn’t possibly be because the person delivering information was a bad communicator, could it? No, it has to be because someone is deaf – Communication problems and all the ensuing issues are all the deaf person’s fault! Of course! (Please read dripping sarcasm into these comments.)

A deaf friend of mine was telling me that they had made a complaint about their supervisor. The supervisor was aggressive, bullying and prone to gaslighting. My friend had a disagreement over reporting requirements with the supervisor, who then abused them and belittled them. The supervisor blamed the disagreement on my deaf friends inability to understand them. They claimed that the automatic captioning was inaccurate and as a result the misunderstandings were resulting from my friends inability to “hear” the supervisor properly.

Incensed, my friend complained to HR that they were being victimised and blamed for the disagreement. They complained that the supervisor was refusing to accept any responsibility for the disagreement and trying to blame my friends deafness for all the problems. Sadly HR backed the supervisor. They ordered that every meeting that my friend attended with the supervisor have a second person in attendance and it had to be recorded. No other person in the organization was subject to this sort of treatment or requirement. My friend quit her job in disgust. This is what we call victim blaming!

Today I had a very upset friend contact me. My friend has “dual” disabilities and has worked in the “NDIS Sector” for a number of years. It seems that their work place were discussing recent developments of the Disability Employment Service (DES) where a number of providers lost their contracts. One of my friends co workers said this – “It can be hard for the DES because many people with a disability don’t want to work. They prefer to get their $600 a fortnight, health care/concession card and rental subsidies rather than work.”

This is, again, victim blaming. This is why Robodebt came to being. Because welfare recipients are burdens that abuse the system. They are lazy good for nothings that cost Australian taxpayers billions. Indigenous communities are also full of alcoholics and abusers who must be controlled with cashless debit cards. You see the pattern? Blame the victims, the ones who are living in poverty and need help. Because they are a burden. Lazy good for nothings. ( Again read this with dripping sarcasm.)

My friend, disabled and compassionate, said this in reply, “Well, if I could live on $600 a fortnight, Healthcare/concession cards and rental subsidies I would have retired years ago.” BOOOOOOOOOOOM! And do you know what happened? The person that stated people with a disability prefer to live on $600 a fortnight and other handouts complained about him. Why? Because he apparently belittled her and infringed on her right to express an opinion. Yes, I suggest you all read this paragraph again if you are shocked and in disbelief.

But what happened next is worse! My friends manager actually called them. Told them off for being insensitive to his colleagues comment and told him to tone his responses down. My friend, the person with a disability, insulted by a colleague, and who spoke up to give people with a disability a voice got told to shut up and get back in his box.

That my friends, is victim blaming. That it is happening to people with a disability in the disability sector in this day and age is a disgrace. AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE!! We have to do better than this!!


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