Based on narratives of volunteers who work with women who have experienced violence, this study examined how institutional discourses nurture a culture of blame and responsibility in these women.
The study found that some volunteers working in victim services in the United Kingdom harbor prejudices related to women victims of violence. Some volunteers, through no fault of their own, do not adequately challenge implications of blame in relation to women victims of violence. Although the organizational rhetoric, policies, and measures may provide immediate and needed assistance to women victims of violence, they do not address or change wider social attitudes among these victims regarding the emotional damage caused by their victimization. The tensions between non-blame and responsibility as indicated by the volunteers' narratives are apparently part of a wider understanding of how women and men interact. Volunteers, who are more likely than professionals to be unconsciously conditioned by normative societal views of female victims of violence, may impart to these victims some sense that they are to blame for being abused. This study interviewed 15 volunteers who worked with a victim services organization called Victim Support (VS). A total of 15 VS volunteers (13 women and 2 men) between the ages of 22 and 65 were interviewed. The volunteers were encouraged to talk freely about their attitudes toward their work and the women victims who receive VS services. The interviews were recorded and analyzed for the attitudes and perspectives of the volunteers. 16 notes and 100 references