Why didn’t you tell anyone? What didn’t you contact the police immediately after your boss or the boss of your boss assaulted you? Why didn’t you tell your parents that the priest touched you inappropriately after choir practice? Why you never told anyone about your husband beating you?
Getting over abuse and being able to speak about it is a very very hard thing to do. Images flow back in one’s mind every time one thinks about what happens. Or perhaps, one chooses to block this memory from surfacing completely. That horrible act leaves deep traces in the psychological state of a person. Many years can pass before she or he can tell anyone about it.
In the grand scheme of things, the “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” question is way less important than the fact that it did happen and it changed one’s life forever. But sadly, this is the question way too many people ask after they hear about a #metoo or another abuse story from the past getting the light of day.
Yesterday, some people tried to convince me and others that due process and trust in the judiciary system are the best approach to stories like this to separate clearly the real thing from the wrong accusations and even mobbing. And this would be a great approach, apart from it completely missing the point.
In addition to being hard to talk about traumatic experiences, many countries didn’t. Some still don’t have the proper legal framework and processes to deal with sexual harassment, domestic abuse or even child molesting. Besides, the investigation and trial come after the damage has been done, not before it (if we don’t count recidivism).
The #metoo movement and any other abuse cases that gain media traction aim to change a mindset and culture. They aim to prevent other people from experiencing the horror. Ever. It is all about creating awareness, finding a way out, healing… It is about preventing the next douchebag in the high position, praying over a woman fearing losing her job. It is about making sure that no paedophile will ever hide behind his clerical post and the church. It is about any husband thinking that he can raise a hand on his wife. It is about eradicating this type of behaviour.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” and “Why don’t we wait for the investigation on trial to tell us the truth?” are questions you probably shouldn’t put your base on. Not anymore. Never again.
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