The heinous, incredibly poisonous, and despicable comments directed toward the survivors of sex abuse at the hands of prominent celebrities is heartbreaking. The public shaming of victims is the reason why many survivors take decades to speak their truth. Sex abuse survivors replay the crime against their bodies in their minds even when they don’t want to. There is no safe haven, solace, or comfort when your mind replays the abuse in an unending loop. Some survivors find the courage to tell, and when they are met with doubt, the assault feels like it is happening all over again. Sexual assault wrecks your body, and it plagues your mind but the ramifications of being met with the implication of lying are immeasurable.
The age of the internet has given sex abuse survivors a space to speak anonymously, and for some the first time ever, they can admit and share what has happened. Unfortunately, survivors have people who can anonymously shame, taunt and vilify those who were brave enough to share. There are endless conversations under the comment sections about why survivors take so long to speak out. There are accusations of wanting fame, money, and recognition. I didn’t realize there was a timeline for when someone should talk about the trauma affecting their everyday life. I’ve also been wondering why the critics of survivors cannot empathize enough to grasp that speaking out is one way to access freedom they never conceived was attainable.
The courage it takes to recall the details of one’s sexual assault in front of Congress, national television, or a jammed packed courtroom is phenomenal. The audacity to face one’s personal hell and to share with horrifyingly intimate details about one’s abuse is nothing short of heroic. I imagine how excruciating it must be to sit with the knowledge of knowing your story may be broadcasted for the entire world to see, and many will judge and condemn their stories harsher than their abusers. How can anyone rest comfortably knowing their truth puts them in the line of fire for incredible amounts of skepticism?
We must be allies, and advocates for ALL victims of sexual violence. There seems to be picking and choosing who of who is credible depending on who the abuser is. There’s an unwillingness to believe survivors because our affinity and loyalty for our memories somehow outweigh another human’s traumatic story. The shaming of survivors has been able to thrive for this length of time because fear has hindered their desire to speak up. However, now we have hundreds of survivors who are finding their voice because a handful have chosen to break their silence. The women, men, and children who have suffered at the hands of abusers for years are finally finding freedom. Their abusers are being shamed, put on trial and are going to prison for years. Yet, even with sentences being handed down, the trauma doesn’t become less harrowing. The threats against their lives are still prevalent and the doubt lingers like the stench of decomposing flesh.
Be brave like the survivors, check your biases and be mindful of your need to defend an abuser for any reason. Watch, listen and feel compassion for the stories being told because it is not easy for anyone to muster that level of vulnerability. Believe survivors. They deserve to be believed. I’m sure you’d want someone to believe you, today is as good a day as any to tell your story. I’ll believe you.