I have decided to write this because of a conversation I witnessed. It was shocking and made me upset to the point I had to leave the room and I could barely pull myself together for several hours. I couldn’t stay silent knowing that some people still think this way. Trigger warning if you happen to be sensitive to discussions involving sexual assaults.
The person in question, we’ll call him Bob because I don’t think I actually know any Bobs and therefore he can stay anonymous, kept calling an assault (which was experienced by a person he used to be in a legal relationship with and which happened years ago so the statute of limitations is likely up) “alleged” and using those annoying air quotes which were uber unnecessary because of the level of sarcasm in his voice. He outright claimed that she was lying since she had made up lies about him once their relationship was over. This happened two days in a row. He further dug his own grave by discussing the merits of bringing the guy who assaulted her to court with him to freak her out.
This is disgusting. And right here I’m going to let loose. If I had any respect for this person it all disappeared once those words came out of his mouth.
- If you are in any sort of relationship with someone romantic/familial/friendship/etc. and they tell you they were abused or assaulted YOU BELIEVE THEM.
I’m not talking about casual acquaintances. I’m speaking about the people who you are supposed to be able to count on when life goes to shit. Do not imply they are lying or exaggerating or anything of the like. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone about horrid things and if you are insensitive in any way the immediate response is to cut you out and rightly so. There is no reason they should have to put up with your bullshit.
- There is never an excuse to visit this person’s horrid experience back on them.
If they want to talk about it again they’ll tell you. You may have good intentions but the thought doesn’t count in this situation. You have no idea what they’re dealing with because of this fucked up experience and forcing them to “fix” themselves is not going to work.
Also, for the love of god, there is absolutely no fucking reason to even entertain the idea of getting back at this person, no matter what they have done to you, by using their horrid experience against them. Do you think for one second that they can forget about what happened? Do you think there aren’t some nights they lie awake reliving every god-awful moment? We’re talking about psychological terror here.
Why the hell do you think more victims of sexual assault don’t come forward? It’s because of shits like Bob not believing them and turning the tables on them. If someone knows what happened to you they can potentially use it against you. If we don’t create a safe place for victims then they will continue to stay silent and not get help. There is this stigma associated with these things and it permeates so much of our culture.
I know there are organizations and places out there who will help people heal. It’s not non-existent. But it makes it a hell of a lot harder to help people when others are calling them liars and making them feel more like shit than the person who assaulted them.
Please, please, please try to be sensitive and supportive if someone tells you they had a horrid experience. That’s all they’re asking for. They need someone to lean on, be honored they chose you and don’t act like a shitbag.