Double Victimization in Haiti

By: Dr. Jeff Cadichon | Clinical Director

In my previous blog post, I spoke about the story of a young woman, whom I will call Ms. X, who was sexually abused. I explained how I tried to support her through one of my students. Given the evolution of the situation, it is necessary to draw your attention to a risk factor that often hinders the accompaniment of victims and makes them more vulnerable. It's double victimization or victim blaming.

My student informed me that a friend of Ms. X who is a medical doctor helped her access medical care, but she doesn't intend to look for psychological care. Furthermore, She will not consider talking to her relatives about the abuse. She said that she's experiencing an intense feeling of shame because she believes that she will be blamed and considered responsible for what happened to her.

Double victimization or secondary victimization could be thought of as victim-blaming attitudes, behaviors, and practices engaged in by parents, family members, community service providers, which result in additional trauma for survivors of sexual assault. In this situation, they may be less likely to engage in helping the survivors find the needed services. 

Due to the fear of being blamed, Ms X appears to avoid or delay disclosure. Unfortunately, this prevents her from having access to mental health services, legal assistance and medical follow-up following the sexual abuse, which can result in long term consequences. 

At Nadege, we understand the issues relating to the care of female survivors of sexual violence in Haiti. We are committed to providing effective and responsive mental health care to sexual assault survivors and restoring hope to them.

Furthermore, it’s important to provide psychoeducation to family members, caregivers and other community members that will help them understand what the affected person is going through. 

Together, let's fight the double-victimization of the survivors of sexual violence in Haiti. These women have gone through a terrifying experience in the past and most likely are suffering in the present. But at Nadege, we are committed to giving them a bright future!