We talk a lot about predators and abusive/negative behaviors – how we should address them head on, how to support victims and how to deal with situations like this all the time. I often hear people touting the idea that we need to support victims of abuse, misgendering, racism and speak for those who do not (or cannot) defend themselves.
In Theory these are great ideas and sentiments and in a perfect world this is exactly what would happen too.
What I see more often than not is these people’s traumas and the events that caused them are used as a twisted form of social currency.
Before some people lose their shit, let me explain.
When I was raped many people chose not to believe my story, which, while horrible, isn’t relevant to where I’m going with this. What is Relevant is the people who “wanted” to believe me. I had ONE person who I confided in, they knew the whole truth because they made me feel that my anonymity would be protected, which I sorely needed at that time in my life. Now, when this person tried to warn others that my partner was abusive, a rapist, and frankly a shit human being, I sat and watched as people who were supposedly close to me make EVERY EXCUSE possible to not have to acknowledge that someone they know could possibly be these things.
I have been raped twice and sexually assaulted more times than I care to count, and the same bullshit keeps popping up even 15 to 20 years later. What this all boils down to is “I WANT to believe, but I don’t like the people the supposed victim trusted or associates with so I will instead tear down any form of warning I become aware of rather than swallowing my pride and ASKING.”
People wonder WHY we don’t call out a lot of predators, racists, and serial abusers – it boils down to something simple: fear.
When someone who is privy to information you are not comes forward regarding these despicable things, I am not saying to not think critically and question. I am not saying to blindly believe – that opens up the ability to weaponize being a fake victim. What I AM suggesting is that these people might not come forward themselves for a couple of reasons.
The reason I have seen most lately is that generally victims will find stronger people they trust to confide in. They feel safe that their anonymity will be protected by these trusted friends.
However, when you attack those people for spreading lies, crying wolf or otherwise publicly verbally attack them – how do you think the victim they are protecting feels? Safe to come forward? Safe to share? Safe to publicly denounce the behavior and the person(s) who turned them into victims?
All of this arbitrarily based on political and social disagreements between members of the community we all agree should be made safer.
How do you know they haven’t made a promise to not name the perpetrators? Instead we’ll cry “GOSSIP!” “DRAMA!” and all manner of other bullshit words which (inadvertent or not) creates an environment of victim shaming and fear. So they stay quiet, and the visible ones take the brunt of the vitriol, and the cycle starts again.
I will admit, I am not innocent in this either, I have done the exact thing I JUST wrote about, and didn’t even consider it abnormal, to me, it’s just the way things were. Which considering my own past, was a really shitty way of going about things simply because I wasn’t prepared to examine my own shitty behavior and thought processes.
What I am proposing we ALL consider, is the fact that warnings are just that – warnings, think critically, ask questions. HOWEVER do not fail to think critically or ask questions of people who are socially anathema to you. We don’t always have to be unified, but if people have the best interest of their respective communities at heart, then giving the benefit of the doubt costs nothing, and could potentially lead to victims feeling safer to share their stories at large, and come forward more readily.