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Avoid blaming troubled persons

By Marilyn C. Arayata

AREN’T we sometimes guilty of casting our biased judgement and blurting out our insensitive remarks when a relative or friend confides in us? “Ikaw kasi…,” “Ang tigas ng ulo mo eh,” “Sinabi ko na ‘yan sa iyo, pero hindi ka naman nakinig.” There is a tendency to blame the one who is suffering, so the latter feels the pain even more. The person received a censure instead of relief.

We justify our action by saying that we are helping our relatives/friends realize their shortcomings. What made us think that they haven’t? They have realized their faults long before they even admitted their problems. It’s not easy for them to share their worries. They have fears, but still they took the risk.

A lawyer disclosed that she was sexually harassed, but instead of receiving emotional support, she said she was even blamed for what happened to her. It was not surprising that she admitted she was suffering from depression. Sexual abuse is a risk factor for depression. Can you imagine the impact made by victim-blaming? It added more pain and frustration to a person who is heavily stressed and who needs support.

Our troubled relatives and friends are already stressed. They can only take so much. They do not just feel sad and alone. Some of them feel hopeless and helpless. They are also very sensitive, so be careful with your words and actions.

If you feel the urge to say something that might hurt them, please stop. Ask what the persons think must be done to address the problem. Help them see options. If we can’t be a source of encouragement, let us be careful not to say anything that might push them to despair.