I’ve almost commented on several friends’ posts or comment threads disparaging women who have come forward accusing public figures of sexual abuse/assault/rape. But I don’t.
Because I’ve already seen how women who come forward with their #MeToo stories are treated in the public forum. I’ve already seen their stories questioned, seen them blamed for someone else’s actions. I’ve witnessed how the actions of the accused are easily dismissed while victims suffer for something that isn’t their fault. People often rally around the accused and blame the victim not only for the abuse, but also for coming forward and disrupting everyone’s normal lives.
So I don’t comment. I don’t engage and try to explain because I have observed your words and memes that show no compassion for victims and even make fun of the situation, downplaying the seriousness of sexual abuse. I know that if you don’t believe them, you won’t believe me. And I don’t want to be hurt deeply by you, too.
Every time you voice your opinion on a sexual abuse accusation and you don’t believe the victim (let’s keep in mind you weren’t even there; you don’t know these people personally, so how could you possibly know where the truth is?), you are telling your many friends and family members who are victims that you won’t believe them either. It’s triggering at the very least and definitely adds to our trauma.
While the law in the U.S. states that the accused are “innocent until proven guilty,” what does that mean to someone who has been abused? That we are liars until our truths are proven correct? I know there needs to be justice and due process, but all I’m saying is that I think there needs to be more care given for victims.
Victims did nothing to “cause” the abuse, yet they serve a lifetime sentence with the effects of abuse. It affects our relationships, marriages, our ability to feel safe, how we see ourselves, how we react to various situations, and how we experience intimacy. Sexual abuse causes anxiety, depression, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and actions, fear of people (particularly men), and our ability to feel love from others and our Heavenly Parents.
While victims are sentenced for life and working through as much as possible in therapy (to the tune of thousands of dollars), perpetrators rarely get prosecuted, most never
apologize or acknowledge what they did was wrong, and even get family or community members who stand up for them, saying how he’s a good person or “boys will be boys.”
Who stands up for victims? Who protects the innocent people who have been harmed by abuse? Where is the support for us and the character letters sent in our behalf? I will always stand with you. I believe you. I’m here for you, my fellow survivors. I’m so passionate about this that I wrote a book to help us heal. I’m not only triggered when I see others not believed, but I feel mama bear rage in your behalf. You are important and God does not ignore your suffering and tears.
We need to change the knee-jerk reaction to not believe victims regardless of the circumstance. Just because you know the accused and they are “a good person,” doesn’t mean they don’t do horrible things in private. Yes, there are occasionally false accusations, but guess what? The damage you do when you don’t believe a victim often takes more time to heal from the actual abuse–at least that’s been my experience.
So maybe instead of rushing to the defense of the accused, at least sit back and say nothing that will hurt so many people you know, people you may or may not know are already suffering because of sexual abuse.