According to Russell, children who are victims of incestuous rape by their fathers are “prone to sexual abuse by husbands and others…. perhaps because they tended to be frightened by men and sexually skewed” (159). In the movie, Albert wanted to marry the more attractive sister Nettie but was given Celie instead. This frustration mixed with the fact that Celie had no means to defend herself further bolstered Albert’s resolve to punish his wife. Ignorance and lack of education were also factors to the vulnerability of Celie to criminal victimization.
According to Schurink, the wife’s poverty and ignorance contribute to the wife’s dependency on the husband and the setting up of a “relationship of superior and subordinate…. .this dependency results from low self-esteem, a lack of self-worth and feelings of guilt. The women actually feel that they deserve such treatment” (237). Celie was hopelessly mired in this situation until Nettie taught her how to read and write and educated her to some degree. Sofia’s (played by Oprah Winfrey) spirited fighting stance and refusal to be cowed and victimized by men, black or white, further opened her mind to the possibility of liberation and independence.
Finally the advent of Shug Avery (played by Margaret Avery), a jazz singer who was Albert’s real love completed Celie’s intellectual liberation for Shug taught her self-respect, self-worth and inculcated in her mind that she is a person with pride and dignity. Shug even 3 taught her how to love although the movie, unlike the novel, downplayed this lesbian relationship.
Celie was able to rise up, pick up the pieces and erase all the decades of trauma from child molestation, incestuous rape and spouse abuse because these three women stood as her core group of support. According to Schurink, this support is essential for a woman “to enable her to work successfully through the trauma caused by the crime” (474). There have been studies carried to pinpoint the victim’s role in the commission of the crime.
There is a theory of victim precipitation which means that the victim could be a contributing factor to her successive victimization (Von Hentig). While Celie did nothing to precipitate the physical, sexual and emotional abuse perpetrated against her and thus qualify her as a “completely innocent victm” (Mendelsohn), still Celie’s ignorance, naivete and simplicity invited abuse from her husband because such placed her on the level of a doormat.
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