Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

THAT Polanski Piece – sin or simplification?

I’m furious. I am angry for everyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted, bullied, drugged, harassed, exposed, shamed and vilified because someone with POWER decided they were an object to be taken advantage of, something less than human, something to be used and discarded.

Far too often, I feel a stab of pain when a ‘journalist’ or self appointed ‘spokesperson’ talks down to victims, from a position of feigned authority and continues the dehumanisation that so many of us feel; without the compassion of experience or any sign of empathy for the lifelong suffering these crimes cause.

They laud victims for being “brave” and “speaking out” as if that means that the wounds were healed, as if everything is all fine now and we can high handedly show sympathy and understanding for the perpetrator. See, it wasn’t that harmful after all, we can all walk away now, nothing more to see here. We’re so intelligently objective we can feel for the man that did this, poor chap, he had problems of his own.

What gives anyone the right to do this? Unless it was YOUR EXPERIENCE you have no right. What your “even-handedness” is actually doing is minimising someone else’s experience. And it’s not just that individual’s experience you are minimising, you are triggering pain in other victims who are at different points in their recovery. You are perpetuating the myth that maybe, just maybe, the victim doesn’t really count, that the crime was not that bad, that there were extenuating circumstances.

The end result is you are hurting the people who have experienced this kind of abuse.

As ‘victims’. we can come to terms with what has happened to us. Face the pain again and finally accept it was ‘not our fault’, that we didn’t do something that possibly caused it to happen. But it never, ever, goes away. We are not ‘the rape’ or the ‘sexual assault’, we can refuse to label ourselves, but the experience is still part of us, even if we refuse to let it totally blight our lives. Even if we write about it to exorcise the pain, to find some sense of justice. Even if we, ourselves, try to forgive the abuser as part of our healing.

What I find unforgivable is excusing the perpetrators and allowing them to escape justice. It leaves something undone, a door unclosed, a tiny nagging infection in the wound that flares up from time to time. If other people and society at large do not acknowledge the wrongness of the crime, how can the victim feel listened to, supported, understood? What happened to you is somehow diminished.

Fame, talent, abuse in the perpetrator’s own background, is NEVER a defence. Nor is war, culture, circumstance, the way someone is dressed, the fact they were drunk or the thousand other excuses rapists and assaulters make.

The fact is that no one has the right to hurt another human being, especially one who is young, defenceless and groomed. A grown man drugging and defiling a 13 year old girl and avoiding answering to this crime for decades, should never be forgiven or let off because he had a difficult life, or because of his artistic temperament, or that he made a ‘mistake’. He is a predator, the likelihood of repeated behaviour of this type is high and he must face and atone for what he has done. Even if the victim has “forgiven him”.

While we’re understanding Polanski, what kind of man lusts after a child, drugs her and then forces his penis into her anus?Is that a positive act? Is that OK? Isn’t there something there that screams hate and defilement? Don’t those bare facts tell you something about evil? Am I missing the nuances here? Is this a ‘sin of simplification’?

If a crime against you is minimised, brushed under the carpet, unacknowledged, it is a ghost of the abuse all over again. It perpetuates the feeling of worthlessness, of not being believed, of shame and self punishment. Unless you understand this, don’t write on behalf of the victims, or think you have the right to pronounce an ‘even handed’ view of the victim and the perpetrator. It’s condescending in the extreme. It disgusts me.

An analogy is someone who sympathises with the guards at an extermination camp, they were acting under orders, it was war, they would have been shot for not obeying orders. They HAD A CHOICE. Abusers always do. They choose to rape, to hurt, to sodomise, to groom someone so they can practice their own sexual deviance upon them. The victims DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE, the only choice left to them afterwards is to let the experience destroy them or survive, it’s as bleak as that.

Unless you have some understanding, some empathy, don’t think you can speak on our behalf. If you are deliberately taking an ‘alternative’ angle on a rape case for notoriety, you are beyond reproach. It’s not clever, it’s not objective reporting or ‘opinion’; it is damaging in a way you can’t imagine.

I’m proud of everyone that spoke up today. I feel the rage across Twitter from people who know and have experienced rape and abuse edifying and cleansing. We are not powerless or weak and anyone defending perpetuators deserves our approbation, if it makes them think more carefully about dashing off an “opinion piece” without regard for the very real consequences.

Shame on you, or in Twitterspeak, STFU.

This post was first published here - thanks to author for permission to cross post.

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