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on living in silence.

America has a cognitive dissonance problem, extrapolating to our culture. This problem is insidious but very present and must be corrected if we want to reframe our culture and narrative.

If you spend enough time on social media or stroll around your local bookstore, the number of self-help and spirituality guides you see is quite overwhelming. At some point both of these niches have overlapped into some new fad of combining both personal growth/spiritual growth which would be an otherwise good thing if we weren't already predisposed to cognitive bias, ideologies, and beliefs stemming from our own personal experiences. What this has left us with, is a collision of Eastern spirituality and Western religion trying to be shoved into a box together, conflating the core principles of each of these things. For example, Buddhist believe in the manifestation of karma that causes evil and the inequality of its people, which goes against what Western culture has its roots set in; God, the ability to make our own choices in pursuit of happiness, and the equality of all people. When you take Western beliefs, such as having an inherent ability to change our circumstances through choice, and try combining it with Eastern beliefs, such as not having control over your circumstances, things start getting a little rocky and confusing, which is where we find ourselves today.

This collaboration of philosophies has unseen detrimental effects on the world around us, particularly in America where it is believed that things should be fair and all things bad should be eradicated. A lot of this problem with America is that most of our society has a delusional belief that generally people are good and should bad things happen to someone, it must be because they asked for it. It's a psychological defense mechanism for most Americans to assume that should something bad happen to another, it's because they've done something to attract that bad thing, which I assume comes from our coddled upbringings and beliefs on individualism. Basically, we are terrified to think that we could be victimized or subjected to horrendous acts at any given moment so we justify the horrors that happen to others, often blaming the victims of such atrocious acts.

I, too, once thought this way, encouraged by media portrayals of violence and victims, my own inability to cognitively understand that the world is unfair, and the delusion that "those things only happen to others, not me". Then, life got real and I quickly realized that I was just as vulnerable to the atrocity's others have experienced and my rose-colored glasses gave way to clarity on the real workings of the world in which I lived. Evil exists everywhere and really bad things can happen in the blink of an eye, even to good, healthy people.

America's Culture of Victim Blaming

What kind of country do I live in that tells someone who has been victimized and stripped of their rights to safety, happiness, and personal liberty that they have to take responsibility in what happened to them?

Do you tell your neighbor their child has to take responsibility for their abuse? Do you tell your grandmother that she asked for her cancer on a subconscious level? Do you tell the father that lost his only son in a terrorist attack that his son must have attracted the wrong energy?

So why in the world do you tell victims of crimes that they need to take ownership in what happened to them? Do you see the hypocrisy in this way of thinking? Probably not, so I'll expand on why one would have these conflicting beliefs, other than the above-mentioned psychological defense mechanism that takes cognitive awareness in overriding.

Dogmatism, the beliefs of traditional gender roles, politics, excessive involvement of religion, and this latest mix of Eastern spirituality and Western religion are all of the tools utilized by members of our society to justify harmful things done to our friends, family, and community members.

You see, being a victim of a crime causes trauma as does being the only survivor in a plane crash. Both of these things create extreme interference on a humans otherwise normal functioning brain and the methods of rationalizing the world around them goes right out of the window. Having never been the only survivor of a plane crash, I can't speak on the specifics of what that traumatic experience looks like but I can, and I do, speak on the traumatic effects of being the victim of a sexual crime.

Sex crimes bring a certain stigma with them, with the public often shying away from acknowledging the almost epidemic quantity of them occurring in America. Just speaking on my experience of being the victim of a sex crime often opens me up to shaming tactics, insincere questioning, and a thick cloud of spoken and unspoken blame and as strong as I appear, these cause a devastating psychological impact on my recovery from what happened to me.

Instead of feeling proud of my ability to be vulnerable and brave in telling my story, I'm often left feeling like I was somehow at fault for what happened to me. The "law of attractioners" tell me it was because I had bad energy and attracted my abuser. The ignorant and arrogant often try telling me what went wrong in my life, as though they know me more than I do. The worst of the blame comes from those who think that they have everything in the world figured out. They have the magic answer and this causes them to not even listen to the issues at hand, because magic answer.

Now, if this vitriol thrown at me, a strong and confident woman, makes me want to curl up in a ball and sob, bringing back all of the years I ALREADY BLAMED MYSELF, I can't imagine what it does to those who haven't yet found solid ground to stand on. It also sheds light on why someone who has been victimized chooses silence over speaking up about what has happened to them. I am certain that many crimes go unreported out of fear that the victim will externally be blamed, shamed, and made to feel responsible for what happened to them as though those feelings aren't already occurring internally.

So, America, we have a problem and the problem occurs daily to those closest to you or in your community. There is something very wrong fundamentally with our culture hinging on the agendas of those who have never had a hard day in their life.

Blaming those that have been victimized not only increases the emotional and mental injuries these once healthy and happy individuals have already sustained, but it takes the focus off the real issue at hand, why people are harming others, thus, enabling them to continue doing it. To your daughter, your sister, your mother, your best friend.

The only responsibility any victim has is the responsibility to heal. Help them with this and stop aiding in the decline of our country's mental fortitude. Our culture & future depend on it.

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