Explained: What does “perfect victim” mean? News
Experts have pointed out Amber Heard may have lost her defence case as she was not seen as the “perfect victim.”
On many occasions during the trial, it seemed that Amber Heard, who lost the defence case against ex-spouse Johnny Depp’s defamation suit, was expected to be the perfect victim. When survivors open up about sexual assault or domestic violence, one of their biggest fears is that they would not live up to the expectations of “perfect victimhood”. It is a major reason why survivors do not come forward and seek legal help, and one of the biggest myths about sexual violence.
What does the term mean?
Simply, to be the perfect victim means to show that the victim did not ask for it. When it comes to domestic violence or sexual violence no one is ever “asking for it”, but patriarchal public and legal systems often hold victims responsible for assaults. Victims are expected to have a watertight case and at every step remain “faultless”, so much so that victims often second-guess themselves. Those who believe in perfect victimhood pick apart a victim’s personality traits or behaviours that may even be unrelated to the assault in order to disparage the victim and ultimately question their credibility.
What are some examples of perfect victimhood?
American actor and stand-up comedian Amy Schumer once stated a boyfriend had raped her while she was sleeping, but she comforted him afterwards because she loved him. “It’s not this ‘perfect rape.’ People want you to have been raped perfectly and they want you to be a perfect victim,” she wrote in her book ‘The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo’.