Why do we worry about using or not using certain words like victims?
Some words or phrases have various meanings and some have double meanings and others can be misleading. A police officer may ask a person reporting a rape “Were you drinking?” The question implies that only sober people are raped, or it is the victims fault if you had been drinking. Imagine reporting a burglary and the police asked “What were you wearing?; have you been drinking?; or Do you know the burglar?; and "Have you experienced a lot of previous burglaries? Sadly, no other crime has such dismissal of rape and family violence events. The methodology used creates a success rate of convictions less than 2%
These words and phrases asked in such situations create unnecessary stress and anxiety and leads to more people joining the so-called silent community.
In normal conversations we can cope with the occasional misuse of a word but in law it is essential to use the correct word.
A good example is related to “Victims”
A prosecuting lawyer examining a person accused of being a rapist would never ask “Did you sleep with the victim?” The accused defence lawyer would object on two grounds. The first being that the case was not about sleeping arrangements and by using the name “Victim” for the accuser was assuming that his client was the Rapist responsible.
A better and more specific question would be “On the (date or time) did you have sexual intercourse with (name if the accuser)” See POST
The word “Victim” is defined as being a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. Example "victim of domestic violence" (synonyms: sufferer, injured party, casualty, injured person, wounded person) Note: In a motor vehicle accident there may be victims in two or more vehicles or persons not within the vehicles. Alternatively it could mean a person who is tricked or duped as in being "the victim of a hoax" (synonyms: dupe, easy target, easy prey, fair game, sitting target, everybody's fool, stooge etc.); or a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment as in "I saw myself as a victim"
In our normal conversations we learn from experience that some words or phrases are not polite because some hurt, other define and, as mentioned above, our legal advisers identify problems with the use of some words.
Although most people who identify themselves as not being either female or male are used to people saying things that hurt
- Avoid asking What is your real name? Or other such personal and investigative questioning.
- Avoid referring to a group of people "Hi Guys" If you want a group to give you their attention say some like "Hello! everyone, may I have your attention" or more formal "Good Afternoon! May I have your attention please?"
- Personal pronouns are difficult when referring to a person as the only normal choice is He, She. If there is any doubt in your mind ask them how they would like to be referred to as. Otherwise avoid the use of a pronoun that assumes gender. Sample "I just spoke to John, who is delighted to join our team. Let's give John a warm welcome
- Avoid swear words, even though many these days use them as adjectives.
- Do you have some words or phrases to add. Please comment.
Why we should not use the word victim in the media.
As most rape case accuers are women let's take a simple example. Imagine a business woman who is successfully managing a major organisation. She is a complex and beautiful human being at the top of her profession, very capable and with diverse interests. flaws and personality.
Suddenly, she unfortunately, is raped without her consent. She hasn't changed, but now her description, is now downgraded, to being referred to as a "victim". This implies that she is not strong and needs to be cared for. If the case were taken to court, the prosecutor would prefer her to be called a victim because it's a word that is favoured to indicate trauma and suffering.
This is the opposite of how we need to treat people who have experienced trauma. We should empower, not weaken, them. Our example above is a woman already empowered but there are others that need much more supportHow to become empowered