Victim blaming complex
On the afternoon of the 23rd
of October, I set out to remember with my family. My husband, myself,
and our children intended to commemorate the heroes of ’56,
and the cherished memories of our grandparents, who had suffered
so much back in the fifties. We had been in high spirits for days.
We were to exercise great self-discipline, as several thousand people
expressed their opinion in Kossuth square. The majority of Hungarians
joined a sacred cause this autumn. The Hungarian nation re-elected,
informally as well as in the local government elections, and renounced
a Government that acts against the spirit of humanity.
We set off in ebullient mood on the 23rd of October, to remember
the heroes of ’56 and to celebrate, not to demonstrate. The
millennium underground ran so unreliably that afternoon, that it
did not even stop at the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky station. When we got
off at Deák square, we were startled by the cause of this
unusual irregularity: We were blinded by teargas in the street..
We stood confused among the crowd, and the tension was palpable.
The aggressive police was diverting the attention of their direct
victims and the sympathisers from the dignified commemoration at
Astoria. As a result of the efficient intervention of some provokers
hired by the left wing, the celebrating crowd were reduced to the
level of vandals on the basis of news flashes aired by the media.
That is to say the social liberal media did not talk about police
brutality, but instead described the supposedly aggressive attitude
of several tens of thousands of people. On the screen, professional
mass communication transformed commemorating people into agitators
of disturbance, who were in the end happy to avoid the stigma of
It was then that I felt a weird analogy between my daily work and
the experience at Deák square. As a professional dealing
with violence in the family, I frequently observe an attitude in
society whereby the immediate environment blames the offended party
for the perpetration of the crime. My clients often complain that
a punch in the face in a relationship is the inevitable result of
the offended party’s behaviour, as far as the public is concerned.
In the meantime, I considered what would happen to my children if
the police did not remove those planted vandals from the celebrating
people, but instead considered their behaviour as casus belli, and
turned against them. My husband and I thought it prudent to go home.
We fled home through back streets, choked by tear gas, ducking to
avoid the rubber bullets, and protecting our son who was by that
time in a state of shock. We were disappointed, because we had set
off with love to the commemoration, and instead found ourselves
scurrying off, humiliated.. When we got home, we started channel
hopping on the TV, and saw as many versions of events as there were
channels to be found. However, none of them could erase the bloody
images. They tried instead to explain what had happened, and why
there was such a spectacular demonstration of police brutality upon
the commemoration of the 23rd of October.
We didn’t sleep easy that night. We were worried, for we did
not know how far the events may escalate. The next day we shared
our experience with those friends who had not been with us, who
were very much interested in what had happened. The social liberal
media had achieved its desired effect. In keeping with the cases
of violence in the family, the victim in the street was held responsible
for their own plight in the eyes of the public. “You were
irresponsible to go there, especially with the kids!” –
came the snap judgement of outsiders. It was then that I realised
why Hungary cannot manage its social and family crisis situations
well. The judgement of society is the result of communication processes.
The opinion of people nowadays is almost exclusively influenced
by the attitude of the media. This is how the stereotypes manipulated
so effectively in public life and the vernacular are created.
Nevertheless, it became clear on the 23rd of October that the majority
of Hungarian people still have an appreciable measure of self-esteem,
despite a one-sided propaganda which has rung through the decades.
Therefore, as victims, they reject the accusation of collective
guilt. The reason for disclosing statistics concerning injured police
is clear: the Government wants to cast the victims in a criminal
light. It endeavours to paint the celebrating crowd as an irresponsible
rabble as a first step, then as the perpetrator of a crime in the
next. The era of shifting blame, and randomly qualifying each other
is over. We are, at last, set to talk about what really hurts. We
want peace, but not at the price of sweeping these issues under
Psychologist and attorney-at-law