Understanding the Behavior Common to Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Link to PCAR: "Common Victim Behaviors of Survivors of Sexual Abuse"
Link to PCAR: “Common Victim Behaviors of Survivors of Sexual Abuse”

When the actions of sexual abuse victims are misrepresented or stigmatized in the media or a court room, it seriously maims the healing process. Victim blaming stems from many things but one cause is a failure to recognize the trauma-induced behaviors of abuse survivors.

For example, most people who have not been abused assume that anyone suffering abuse would automatically leave, speak out and seek justice. So, when a woman leaves a domestic violence situation after years and years of abuse, others may be quick to judge her: “If she had been in real danger, she would have left a long time ago.” This is a form of victim blaming, stemming from a misunderstanding of what this woman suffered and the obstacles she faced in leaving. In other words, there are many reasons people remain in abusive situations: fear for personal safety or the safety of children in the home (i.e. being threatened, “If you leave, I will…”), fear of not being believed by family or legal authorities, humiliation, isolation, shame, the love the abused individual has for their abusive parent, partner or spouse, etc. It is never wise to assume another person ought to react as we would in the same situation. In the case of abuse, it can be outright dangerous. Survivors need support, not criticism. Reporting abuse requires great courage on the part of a survivor.


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