How To Recognize Victim Blaming

by | Boundaries

Victim blaming gaslighting

Victim blaming is an insidious form of abuse in and of itself. In the betrayal trauma community, abusers, clergy, therapists, and others blame victims for “their part” in the betrayal and abuse that they experience at the hands of their partners. Recognizing victim blaming is an essential in the toolkit of every victim. 

Victim Blaming Is Harmful To Women

“We see time and time again women thinking: If I would have done something differently, if I looked different this wouldn’t have happened to me.”

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

When women are blamed by abusive partners, family, friends, and professionals for their partner’s abusive and compulsive behaviors, there can be deeply harmful effects.

Because victims are conditioned to be compliant, many internalize the false and harmful claims and begin to blame themselves. Further, those close to the victim have the unique opportunity to help and support her. When they choose to blame her, overtly or covertly, they are enabling the abuser and putting the victim into harm’s way.

What Does Victim Blaming Look Like?

Wonder if you have experienced victim blaming? Here are some common statements that indicate that others are blaming you for the abuse and betrayal.

  1. “How have you contributed to your husbands infidelity?”
  2. “If you make yourself more available, he wouldn’t need to act out.”
  3. “If you take care of yourself a little more, he would be more interested.”
  4. “You need to be a safe person so he won’t lie to you.”
  5. “You should just forgive him and move on.”
  6. “How can you ever stay with him after this?”

How Can I Respond When I Experience Victim Blaming?

Victim blaming is deeply hurtful to abuse and betrayal victims. Here are some phrases that may help you respond when you experience victim blaming:

  1. “I don’t have to prove my point, my feelings, or myself and I’m done talking about this for now.”
  2. “That’s not how I see it, I’m walking away.”
  3. “I’m feeling defensive right now so it’s best if we end this conversation.”
  4.  “That’s not who I am, this conversation is over.”
  5. “I’m not feeling heard, so I am done with this conversation.”

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal and Abuse

At BTR, we place the blame where it belongs: with the abuser. Women who join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community are never blamed for their partner’s abusive choices.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers women the unique opportunity to process trauma, share their stories, ask important questions, and express hard feelings in a safe place. Join today and find the validation and support that you deserve.


You May Also Like

Is Your Husband Grooming You?

Is Your Husband Grooming You?

He says he’s changed. He’s made serious promises. But how do you know it’s real? Is your husband grooming you? Find out here.

You Can’t Fix Your Abuser

You Can’t Fix Your Abuser

You can’t cause, control, or cure the abuser: you can’t fix your abuser. You can only set boundaries and seek safety for yourself. BTR can help.


  1. Poncho

    Hi. As a male who has been severely traumatized and physically and mentally abused by a malignant narcissist, it is difficult to process that all these examples and solutions and suggestions apply only to women(?). I really try to envision these scenarios in a neutral way, yet knowing that men are also abused and have little to no resources available is terribly disappointing and it hurts more than you could know! I did read that you are welcoming to men and anyone struggling, so that is reassuring. I have an incredible story to share, but it is very difficult to explain to normal people who havent experienced such treachery and cant grasp the concept, or just think its far fetched, or its embellished in some way! Im not sure if you would welcome my input, but hope you could understand. I am in a bad way, and could really use some solid advice. thank you

    • Anne Blythe

      I’m so sorry about what you’ve gone through! Our site and podcast are specifically for women who have been abused. Perhaps the advice we give women will help you . . . not sure since we are geared only for women victims. But know that my heart goes out to you. It’s incredibly painful!

    • A

      Poncho, I am so sorry for your pain. A male family member of mine went through the same thing. I can really sympathize because there are more resources out there for women;I don’t actually like that the name of the page makes it sound like it’s for everyone yet it’s all geared toward women. I would prefer it to say Betrayal Trauma Recovery for Women or something like that. Then I hope men will follow suit and start resources for men, and perhaps eventually there could be a Betrayal Trauma Recovery for Women and Betrayal Trauma Recovery for Men, or a different group altogether. Don’t stop speaking out or seeking trauma therapy if you are able to get it. The more men voice these concerns, the more men will band together and form resources like this. The article says “Blaming comes from three different areas I believe. One of them is from the husband, or you know it could be the wife if they stepped outside of the marriage, but for the sake of our audience we’re going to stick with the husband. Whoever has the problematic sexual behaviors.” We can extend this to non-married abusive relationships also.

  2. Nasca

    I have only got half way through this post cast and I am baffled I have been hearing these lines for 25 years. Crazy part is the 5 helpful scripts that you payed out for victims my husband has been already using on me. What do you suggest!!!

  3. NRichey

    I have only got half way through this post cast and I am baffled I have been hearing these lines for 25 years. Crazy part is the 5 helpful scripts that you payed out for victims my husband has been already using on me. What do you suggest!!!

  4. Julie Wilson

    Hi Anne,
    Thank you for this podcast. It has helped me validate what I believe God has been showing me to find my own healing. Like yourself, I like to debate too but not to win but to try to help explain how I feel or how my husbands actions has made me feel. Which usually ends up with him apologizing before blaming me. I’ve been married nearly 25 years now and 2 years ago I discovered my marriage was a sham because he’s been unfaithful throughout which I never knew. Then a year and a half later I discovered that the first disclosure (only because he was caught) of his behavior was a complete lie. He didn’t even tell me the truth.
    Anyway, my question is this: as a victim of betrayal trauma, is it my responsibility to help my husband with his healing? He says it is. Because I can’t, he continues to put blame on me and I will not accept that I had anything to do with his unfaithfulness. Especially after he says he’s sorry and “owns” his infidelity but then I say one wrong thing then it’s back to being my fault again. And why or when will I take responsibility for my contribution to his behavior. I have chosen to walk away. We are currently separated, I kicked him out. And I am not allowing myself to be tempted or to be enticed by his “I’m sorry’s, I don’t mean to hurt you” apologies. I have set my boundary not to believe his apologies anymore. Because that is all they are, apologies, nothing more because his apologies mean absolutely nothing! Because his behavior remains the same. Even though he tries to convince me to acknowledge the “changes” he’s made or is making. I simply do not see it because his treatment of me has not changed. This podcast helped validate the way I feel and let’s me know I’m on the right track to my own healing and recovery. However, am I responsible to help with his healing? He says he needs me. But I think he only needs me so he can have someone else to look at, see my faults which then prevents him from looking at himself and at all his faults. I played the “okay, I forgive you” game for a year and a half which I told myself I would give him. He failed. So, I quickly set my boundary and kicked him out. It’s been victim blaming ever since including what example am I setting for our adult daughters. My husband told me that I’m showing them that I’m giving up on their dad. I know better. I trust God and I trust myself. I don’t trust my husband.
    Thank you for listening. And thank you again for your weekly podcast. It has helped me understand myself. But am I responsible for my husbands healing too?

    • Anne Blythe

      The answer is no. You are not responsible in any way shape or form to “help” your husband stop emotionally abusing you. Don’t let anyone, yourself, clergy, therapists, etc, make you think that you have any responsibility at all the “help” your emotional abuser stop his harm to you. You only have the responsibility to set boundaries for safety. That is where your responsibility starts and stops.

  5. Julie Wilson

    Thank you, Anne.

    I appreciate your podcasts. Like many others have said, it has become my lifeline too. So, thank you again for responding to me.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.