What’s Inappropriate About Exposing Abuse?

What's Inappropriate About Exposing Abuse?

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.

Related Posts:

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

What’s Inappropriate About Exposing Abuse?

23 thoughts on “What’s Inappropriate About Exposing Abuse?

  • November 1, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Sadly 6 or 7 years ago I would have supported this person. Not because I agreed but because I did not want the memories of child sexual abuse to be my story. Today I understand that people like this man attach to the fear, shame and disbelief in order to keep you confused and silent.

    • November 1, 2015 at 9:14 am

      I’m sure a lot of us could say the same thing about supporting this person. I used to perpetuate abuse by teaching women in my church some very unhealthy ways of relating to their husbands. I didn’t know any better then. I’m glad many of us are seeing more and more of the truth.

  • November 1, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I am saddened by the attitude of some but I am not surprised. If you look at it from a “family” prospective then the reaction was predictable. This man was part of our “family”. He was part of our safety net. He was someone in our “club” that understood us more than “outsiders”. He was someone we trusted to open up to and let walls down around. When someone that close is accused, we don’t want to believe it. We can’t believe it. In essence, it is being betrayed just as we were when we were abused originally. We can’t wrap our heads around letting another “monster” into our inner circle of trust so our brains have to deny this in order to keep us from being overwhelmed with fear. It is our for survival of our sanity. This is much the same way a mother doesn’t believe a child when the child says another family member abused them. Even though she knows “monsters” exist, they can’t possibly exist in her family.

    • November 1, 2015 at 9:16 am

      Lacy, exactly! Thank you for sharing that.

  • November 1, 2015 at 8:31 am

    what is inappropriate about exposing sexual abuse?

    I don’t know, but I think the effect of shame is very strange.

    A few days after I was raped as an adult I was invited into the ‘talking circle’ (think alternative hippy community, Kalikalos in Greece, run along the same lines as Findhorn in Scotland) to say what happened.

    I immediately said, ‘I am not shaming anyone in the circle’ and refused to participate.

    I think the sense of shame in sexual crime is very strange. Its seems to be dumped by the perpetrator onto the victim, but I don’t really understand how. While I was being raped I could not cry out because I was frozen with trauma, but also I was terrified people would hear me, and come in and find me, and not rescue me, but find me shamed. I and I felt I would rather die than have anyone know. Rationally I knew these feelings made no sense, and consciously decided to talk about it, and give the shame to the rapist, where logically it belongs.

    Other experiences of trauma we can share amongst our friends, over drinks, almost dine out on. For example, ‘I was mugged’ or ‘I had a terrible accident at work’ etc are all things that are acceptable to discuss, to ask about, to warn others about, and I think this helps dissipate the trauma.

    However, “I was raped’ or ‘I was sexually abused as a child’ are not considered ok subject material in polite society. Which logically is wrong, but its a very strong feeling, of shame I think.

    I don’t really understand how the whole thing about shame works, I would welcome being part of a discussion about it.

    (I have experienced feeling less shamed, dirty and unclean since owning my repressed memories of childhood abuse, the good news is that I am beginning to feel like a whole clean new me, as I should be, since I began to accept my memories as true, as if this casts off the shame and gives it back to the rapists / violators / sadists.)

    • August 12, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Thank you for you clear commentary.
      Somehow we end up holding the shame that was put onto us by the abuser. Look at age old customs around the world. A young woman is raped, she gets thrown out of her family and is forced into prostitution or suicide. Why is it her shame and not the perpetrator’s?

      Power corrupts. People with power over other people don’t give it up easily.

      On a family vacation just last week with my grandchildren, my son and dil and her parents, the grandpa asked me a question about my early marriage to my son’s dad and subsequent divorce. I told him I got married to get away from my dad who sexually abused me.

      Even though B was kind and concerned, his obvious distress made me feel distressed – as if I’d done something wrong. I felt ashamed. Later I felt fear that he would decided to shun me.

      That didn’t happen – and I hope it doesn’t. I feel I need to learn how to give caring, concerned people time to absorb such disturbing information. Even more important, I need to take REALLY good care of myself and be gentle and compassionate and kind with my own vulnerability. I feel very vulnerable being exposed – even though I made the choice to tell the truth.

      I’m so glad you are feeling clean and whole. I feel that way sometimes – and then at times I get triggered into shame. I’m learning to see every time I’m triggered as an opportunity to love myself more.

  • November 1, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Beverly, just read your comment, yes, well put, thank you.

  • Pingback: How Abusers and Perpetrators Get Away With It :: Emerging From Broken

  • November 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    “What is inappropriate about exposing abuse????? Who decided what is appropriate?”

    “Abusers require secrecy. Demanding privacy only propagates more abuse. Silence breeds abuse and abuse breeds silence.”

    These two quotes. Right here.

    The military thrives on silence for its members. Silence and installing fear is what led my husband to get away with what he did to me for so long. Reputation, rank, public image all come into play so he can keep his job and rank while never being held accountable for his actions towards me and other women. I find this preposterous and deeply disturbing.

    I will never stop speaking about about the abuse, the narcissism, and the trauma it has caused.


  • November 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Isn’t there something said about “history repeating itself?”

    State TRUTH LOUD and CLEAR.

    UNBIASED TRUTH: Nothing else serves the goal of HEALTH.
    Anything else serves LIES.

  • November 3, 2015 at 8:33 am

    My son endured years of abuse at the hands of his older half brother. As a young teen he was suicidal. He recently became the face of Denver’s Start by Believing campaign. His picture was on bus stop shelters throughout the city. My mother and his favorite aunt and uncle would not allow us to participate in a family holiday dinner at a local restaurant because they were “embarrassed” to be seen with my son. Last week my son and I keynotes a conference in Keystone Colorado. He got three standing ovations for his willingness to speak out to help others. We are working on our second book together and we both know that to keep silent only benefits the perpetrators! This was so well said by you!!

    • August 12, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      kudos to your son! How is he doing now?

  • November 11, 2015 at 6:21 am

    I grew up in the country club. My 2 abusers enjoyed my silence. My mother hated my acting out. My grandmother demanded my silence. Reputation, she reminded, can’t be repaired. I became anorexic. I hated me as much as they did. I wasn’t silent though, but my talking wasn’t effective either. My talking looked like spite, rebellion and went unheeded. At one dinner party, filled with country club members, my#1 abuser stuck his tongue in my mouth after my mother demanded I kiss him good night. The room fell silent. I looked at my mother for rescue, reaction or intervention of any kind… There was none. I went to bed and woke up in the same nightmare I went sleep in. I confronted her 3 years ago. I just wanted her to know. The letters I wrote her as a kid were ignited. Now as an adult I felt credible. She hasn’t spoken to me since.

    • August 12, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      I live in Houston and had not heard about this until now.
      I think that most predators were also victims who made the choice, either consciously or unconsciously – to abuse others.

  • January 27, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Deep down, I knew I couldn’t really start the healing process from CSA until I outed the abuser. (father)

    I phoned my father one day….back in mid 2012….and told him what I remembered about the abuse. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life. I was literally trembling when I picked up the phone to make that call. This was 34 years after the abuse. (when I was 11). All the power that he had over me as a child started to melt away on that day.

    After that day I was on a mission!! For the first time in my life…I was really truly living my life from a total position of truth! I ended up telling my grown daughter and son, my brother, and a cousin who came back into my life. I knew that abuse thrives on secrecy…so I made a point of informing my step sister (via private message on facebook as we are not close) who has young children still in contact with him. I was determined that no other child should have to live with the burden of being abused if I could help it.

    I found out that the abuser had moved to another state to be near another step sister who runs a child care centre and has young children. I sent her a private facebook message and then followed that up with an email to her centre.

    I never received any reply or acknowledgement from the step sisters. They both have young children who have contact with the abuser….and one of the sisters was also molested by him. But, still, they allow their children to be in contact with him. Amazing!

    You know what though? At least I can live with myself for trying to do the right thing. I no longer hide the abuse away in that dark, secret place anymore. I have shone the light and outed him for the abuser that he is. That is the truth and I will never, ever deviate from that. The truth is my strength!

  • April 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

    I use my real name. I refuse to carry the shame of my mother’s sickness I have nothing to be ashamed of. I will not be silenced. It is law now here to report abuse. Yet the law is often more often than not are unable to convict. Child protection is bogged in paperwork that goes nowhere no collation of info that’s my experience with them. My mother txd me saying she is often left alone with my youngest niece in current times. I went to my sistrr in law my nieces mother my brother had not told her about the polygraph i had done the polygraph my mother refuses to sit. I gave her the info i left her child was sick she had to get medicene bavk to my niece. I then received a trespass order ftom them. We had hugged. I dont understand. I stayed less than 10mins. So I went to my abusers community on facebook received basically no response im assuming disbelief yet if they bothered to look into the red flags the clear lies ..if just 1 actual expert in family denial abuser tactics community grooming if 1 expert listened to the recordings i have its clear that my moher needs treatment. I only record my psrents because they lie they havr lied my whole life so i wised up and now i have got them on record lies lies one thing then another version my father even slips up confirming some of the sick stuff my mother did in front of us oh but it could be interpreted in different ways for conviction requirements. even their priest who said to me that even weeds ie abusers cannot be thrown out because the weed has good parts even he has blocked me from messaging him because i exposed my abuser to the community. Im assuming he has kept her on his friend list. And views me as less than of weed value. Well i guess the church is known for that sort of thing i shoukd not be surprised yet im still in shock n hurt. they all believe her false image and see me as the abuser because I told & i told them all. . My mother should not be left alone with any child or teenager. Yet it is me that is ignored it is me that is rejected out of family for the rest of my living days my siblings words. It is me that will never get to meet my niece or enjoy seeing her grow up It is me that has to fix the damages from what mu mother did but the damages I am overcome by is the disbelief the rejection the shock that my mother ay right now be alone with any child and society even the priest don’t even check the info properly 5hey don’t even check with my child what her Nana used to say to her. . . And it may even be me that gets in trouble for using my friends facebook to gain access to my mother’s friend list as she had blocked me when i confronted her about her abuse.. So I exposed her to the people she stands before at church on Sundays reading to them in church readings. I used my name. I told the truth. Its not enough. They shame me by their no response or by blocking me. They don’t even care enough to check the info 8li have here first hand. W are still in the midle ages with this we really are

  • June 28, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I agree that not taking sides, IS actually taking sides! This horrible event has proven exactly how far reaching this issue is & the damages it has caused. Abusers are crafty & cunning. They are everywhere – churches, high positions, positions of even counseling & tormenting the abused even further. How would those who have been hurt even know what is happening except that the abuser be exposed? It cannot be allowed to continue & the appropriate people should have, as has been done, been notified; otherwise & sadly, it would have continued.

  • June 30, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I get really confused when reading about abuse and victims. Sometimes I feel like I am the one abusing while also being the victim of abuse. I know things aren’t always so black and white and my therapist tells me to think of the circumstances that go around my behavior and if they are vengeful behavior then I am doing it to be hurtful that I am being abusive but if they are to help and some form whether it’s for myself or my kids then often what might look like abuse is really circumstantial. But abuse itself is not circumstantial. What I’m getting at, is that I found that illfully speaking about another is a way to control how people view them which is a form of abuse. In my situation my feelings are a little bit of everything. I have some anger because I was left looking like the crazy one after a narcissistic relationship. We have kids and I have to deal with his mother and I have to deal with him dating other people and it makes it hard emotionally to know how I am viewed but also the fact that they interact with my children and I have no ability to express my concern about what he did to me. Other then anger I also have pain and I also want Justice. But wanting that Justice would mean that I have to expose him which is also viewed as a form of abuse and control. So does that mean because I don’t want to be viewed as the abuser or the controller that I have to sit in silence and just take what everybody says? I have lots of proof I have a very kind boyfriend who went through my ex situation with me and heard all the fights and phone conversations and read the text messages with me. He is my only Observer but because he is my lover he is invalid because of the bias. I fear my ex’s Behavior will leak onto the children and I have thought of exposing the emails and along with what counts as abuse to his mother. Since she watches my children the most I feel that the exposure of her son’s behaviour is a very important thing when relating to the children. She tells me she doesn’t want to hear anything because her main concern is the children and not are fighting. But this is not about fighting. This is about me this is about my children and this is about the truth. Living the next many years having to go back and forth with a family that thinks I hurt their son when really it was the other way around is not a way that I would like to live. But in order to expose anything I run the risk of looking worse than I already do. I have exposed small things to his new girlfriend which is why I was shut off from him and his family even though I was very nice and I did not threaten or make any ill remarks towards her or him other than what he put me through and a warning to her. I was very sympathetic and I gave good text messages but even though they were good text messages to send you can’t see your whole conversation so my points were voided. Because he is so wonderful and the eyes of everybody else and because text messages are too long to expose and because if you open your mouth the public Society and people in your personal life see you as the one out to hurt someone because whatever I was in with him is over so that means I should forget everything that happened move on and just be happy with what I have. I am very happy with what I have. But it doesn’t let go of the feeling that what I went through was real and it hurts and haunts me everyday. I want to clear my name I want to finally have Justice and peace in my mind. The sad thing is nobody cares. Nobody cares what he did or why he did it. And because I want to expose it then maybe I really am the abuser. It just seems very unfair that he could be so cruel and torture me so much and get everything he wants. And I have to keep silent and I have to hold on to it. It’s unfair that I have to live my life as the guilty one while he gets to live his life as the innocent when he’s the one that put me through everything and my kids through everything. Even talking and placing the blame on him is considered control and abuse and the articles that I have read. I Had My Moments where I retaliated after 6 years trying to fix things with someone who doesn’t care makes it hard to hold back. But now from what the article say I’m only making excuses why it’s okay for me to be the way that I was and not for him. People who know him, including himself claim im being spiteful. So unless anybody actually here’s the whole story then the little bit you try to justify and you try to expose are just he said she said and they just weren’t good together kind of look to it. Why is everyone else able to make excuses for his behavior but I’m not allowed to have reasons for mine and I want to expose him. What good will come from it they say. What good will come from it? I don’t know but it’s very conflicting to make the right choice when you feel you are in the right and others feel you are in the wrong before you even do anything.

  • August 15, 2016 at 4:52 am

    I find these comments in particular real head-scratchers:
    “But to publically shame and name is not right at all.”
    “To have one’s sins so publicly posted is horrible.… I am by no means condoning his behavior, but that is all it is, is behavior…”

    Um, if you’re not allowed to “name and shame” on a website accessible to the general public, then why the hell do we have online sex offender registries? Let’s face it, once you’re convicted, the cat’s out of the bag and the *state* is going to name and shame you, which carries a lot more weight than a Facebook group. Your secrets are no longer safe; why should they be? If you don’t like that, then you should have thought of that before committing sexual violence. It’s that simple.

    Just my two cents. Good luck and God bless to everyone here.

  • July 7, 2017 at 8:13 am

    I’m all for exposing abusers to the public ..it will help warn others from ending up victims and curb abusers who fear exposure more than anything else. It baffles me that it doesn’t get done immediately when they are charged ….we need an international register for abusers and pedophiles that can be accessed by the public. Silence and non exposure only enables abuse and abusers..

  • November 13, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    I’m glad to see people open up about abuse. Im a 42yr old Male and was sexually abused at a young age. This affected me my whole life and my marriage as my wife and I are separated at the moment. Even though I was sexually abused it has caused me to do things that I’m not proud of and regret everything I did but what happened to me is no excuse for what I did but it has led me to do what i did. I’m still dealing with my problems and hope for reconciliation in my marriage.


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