You Are the Second Abuser

From college campuses to the world of celebrity to religious communities, there seems to always be a backlash against those who come forward

Whatever your justification, your shrill voice is the knife in the dark that attacks when a person finally decides to come into the light.  You should know that.  You should know that your words are not without power.  They are extremely powerful.  And their power is what has caused the abused to be silent for generations.  Their worst nightmare is reliving their past abuse and then being told that the dark voices in them are right, that they deserved it or that they were really the guilty party.  Or to simply be unheard, misunderstood.  Better to hold it in, better to hide it, they think.


One of the “advantages” of being a writer who writes about his traumatic experiences with mental illness  is that many people open up to me about the pains they’ve gone through.

I am simply amazed at how many people have gone through horrific trauma in their lives. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve met who have been raped, abused, manipulated by moral crooks, gone through moments of mental instability (to say the least), or been through other traumatic moments.  It’s come to make me realize just how much is hidden underneath the existence we’ve come to think as “normal.”

I actually find their opening up to be amazing, not a negative thing.  Any trauma can be addressed.  Any pain can become a source of growth, even if the scar always remains, even if every time we touch it we wince.  And opening up is a sign of that growth.

But there is something else I’ve seen, something that has caused me enormous pain among that beauty.

The world still has not become a safe place for them to be open.

I often imagine to myself a world where my friends felt comfortable enough to share their pain with the world (if they so wished): a world that would understand, or try to understand.  A world that would embrace them.  Care for them.

What a beautiful world that would be.

That’s not the world we live in.

We live in a world where 68% of rape victims don’t accuse their abusers.  Why?  Many reasons, but a big one is the very real feeling that the world will shame them if they come forward.

And you know what?  Maybe they’re right to feel that way.  From college campuses to the world of celebrity to religious communities, there seems to always be a backlash against those who come forward.  Whether it be about rape, abuse, or any other trauma.  

And so the people who speak up are thus doubly brave: for overcoming their own shame, and being willing to confront the shaming of the world.

The reaction to the abused speaking up, of course, has improved steadily for decades now.  Awareness, more people speaking out, and general societal education has improved so much.

But what is old still remains.  What is entrenched is still deeply embedded.  The reaction, whether it be the vocal minority, or an entire community, is one of utter fear and paranoia.  Anger, vitriol.

A person speaks up about abuse, and they are accused of everything.  Accused of lying, trying to profit off of someone else.  Accused of trying to start a “lynch mob.”  Accused of being the actual abuser.  In more sheltered societies, they are actively intimidated, attacked, and ostracized.

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