As difficult as it is to get out of an abusive situation, live with depression, or survive any number of similar circumstances, the story rarely ends there. Unfortunately, if there's anything people love more than Pumpkin Spice lattes, it's judging others who appear different — and as artist Katarzyna Babis' comics about victim-blaming show, this stigma can have lasting effects on the psyche.
Typically, any discussion of victim-blaming is dominated by the toll it takes on survivors of sexual assault. The modern-day litany of invasive questions, lifestyle-shaming, and implications that someone should be complimented by rape has grown into a culture of victim-blaming; in fact, society's tendency to hold men and women accountable for the actions of their attackers is so entrenched that research has shown victims are actually more likely to blame themselves for assault than a third party. It's a frankly horrifying problem that activists have been trying to address for decades, and sadly, it doesn't appear to be resolving itself anytime soon.
As a result, it's no surprise that Babis' comic series deals with the problem of sexual assault. However, what makes her work stand out is that she doesn't just stop there — the comics go on to shatter stereotypes surrounding victim-blaming in all its forms, from the stigma around male victims of domestic violence to calling those with mental illness attention-seekers.
"Victim blaming is still a huge problem especially here, in Poland... My intention was to help people who's problems are connected with some kind of a social stigma," Babis tells Bustle over email. "Dealing with rape, anorexia and depression is already super hard, and the way society treats people with those problems is not helping."
"My biggest inspiration are always people around me: my friends, my family. My work is combination of theirs and mine personal experiences... I have always felt the need to use my skills to help people," she says. "Even if only by letting them know their feelings are valid and that they're not alone."
Initially, the series only featured female subjects, which Babis writes was the result of her own struggle not to stereotype. "Statistically, women are dealing with those problems more often then men. So, maybe subconsciously, I thought of them as a default. But then I thought about creating more illustrations about social stigma, this time about men's problems... That's how three next posters were created," she says.
Images courtesy of Katarzyna Babis (6)