by Christina Enevoldsen
This past week in the survivor community on Facebook, an abuse advocate was exposed as an abuser. It caused an uproar, with some siding with his victims and many (including other advocates) supporting him.
Like all abusers, this advocate has groomed this community to see him as a hero, not as the abuser he is. He has positioned himself to be the victim of this “smear campaign” and has garnered the sympathy of many.
I have no doubt of his guilt. I know one of this man’s victims and I’ve seen his vile emails and texts. I’ve also seen the same pattern in all of the women who have come forward. The publicity is reaching others who have been degraded by him and we are learning about more victims almost daily.
I’m not surprised to discover that a trusted member of our community of survivors, a person who claims to help and care for survivors, is actually a predator. It was somewhat surprising to see how many people have defended him and have blamed his victims. But what shocked me is how many people are taking the “high road” by not taking sides. Except that they are taking sides—the abuser’s. Even worse, they are shaming those of us who have called attention to the abuse.
They’ve made comments like:
“Even if he has been doing what you say, is this the best way to go about this?”
“This should have never been put on Facebook for an open discussion.”
“I find it difficult to participate in a very public assassination…”
“I will admit I believe the ladies to a point…the point being we heard their side and it’s true. But to publically shame and name is not right at all.”
“To have one’s sins so publicly posted is horrible. We all sin. We all make mistakes. He will pay for his, I am sure, but to publicly shame and humiliate another survivor who does wrong, that’s wrong too… I am by no means condoning his behavior, but that is all it is, is behavior… two wrongs never make a right…”
Others discounted this pubic awareness by calling it “drama”. That’s a shaming statement that’s similar to “making a big deal about nothing”. It’s condescending and dismissive to reduce abuse or exposing abuse to “drama”.
Yes, this is drama. Opposing abuse creates conflict. What is wrong with this type of upheaval to the status quo if the status quo is ABUSE??? Is peace better? Who does peace serve?
Silence is not peace!!!! Silence is not peaceful to those who have been victimized. Silence is an excruciating, solitary hell. Those who insist on peace in the midst of this evil perpetuate evil, not peace.
Most of these comments were made by advocates and survivors who have been a part of the greater survivor community for years. Because there was so much evidence, many of them accepted this man’s guilt, yet they stood by him instead of the ones exposing him.
These are advocates and survivors who speak out against the passive bystanders who do nothing about the abuse they see. Yet when it’s someone they know who is the abuser, exposing abuse is called “character assassination,” “backstabbing,” and “public shaming.”
This public figure has used his position to shame, degrade, threaten, harass, blackmail and terrorize, but exposing him is wrong? That’s the thing to stand against?
This is a typical response from outside the abuse survivor community but it’s disheartening to see it within our own community. How many of us have experienced pressure from family or friends with, “Stop airing your dirty laundry”? How many of us have been shamed into silence with warnings about what is “appropriate” for public discussion?
What is inappropriate about exposing abuse????? Who decided what is appropriate?
If abuse is handled privately, who does that serve? Why is the abuser’s reputation more important than warning potential victims? What is so sacred about a reputation that isn’t deserved? Why are the abuser’s feelings more important than the victims?
Where should these discussions take place? Abusers require secrecy. Demanding privacy only propagates more abuse. Silence breeds abuse and abuse breeds silence. Speaking out is a way to empower survivors; requiring a survivor’s silence empowers predators. Who do you want to empower?
I’d love to hear your feelings and experiences about exposing abuse. Have you felt pressure to keep silent or to protect your abuser? Have you been shamed for speaking out? Please share your thoughts with me below and remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion.
Also, for more about this situation and a challenging way to look at it, read Darlene Ouimet’s new post on Emerging From Broken: How Abusers and Perpetrators Get Away With It.
I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. I’m a Strategic Interventionist and Certified Professional Life Coach with a specialty Life Story Certification. As a survivor of incest, sex trafficking and a 21-year long abusive marriage (now remarried to an emotionally healthy, loving and supportive man), I bring personal experience, empathy, and insight as well as professional training to help childhood sexual abuse survivors thrive.
Exposing the Incest Family Secrets
I Blamed Myself Since I Didn’t Tell
How Do I Disclose My Abuse?
Why Do I Need to Tell?
Why I Talk About My Childhood Abuse Over and Over
Male Childhood Sexual Abuse: Suffering in Silence