***This article is meant to show my views on child sexual abuse victims. It may trigger you in some ways, so please take care. ***
The thing is that this space already goes far away from my initial plan, but there are some issues that I cannot ignore and I am using this platform, although small and pretty much useless, to share my experience and my views. Sometimes only one step is enough for big changes and I can honestly tell that there is no bigger change that I dream about in this life of mine than stopping child sexual abuse. I am not delusional, though, I fully understand how that might never happen, so I am focusing on healing, education, information. I am powerless because my voice is not loud enough yet. But I am powerful because I can finally raise my voice and little by little it will get louder and louder.
Now, I can provide a lot of guidelines and information regarding child sexual abuse. There is so much relevant information out there, but it seems that many of us are blind to it. That happens because a “normal” person´s brain doesn´t really understand how could this type of horrible thing occur and it either denies its existence, or it puts labels such as “this only happens to poor people” or “my father would never have done that”. The bad news is that statistics (which in my opinion might show a smaller number than the real one) show that 1 in 4 (one in four. o n e i n f o u r) persons experience some sort of sexual abuse before 18 years old. Ignoring that seems a bit….ignorant, right?
Either way, I shall not provide a masterclass on the topic for now. I shall write here from my position of survivor (although I somehow don´t fully agree with this term). I am a survivor and I once was a victim. You could argue that I´ll forever be a victim, but I prefer to politely inform everybody that it is not the case. I am not here to talk about my experience as such, because I am not ready to do it, I feel extremely nauseous even typing right now and I just don´t want to for now. I am writing this (Finally getting to the point, it did take a while 🙂 ) because I think most of us missed a major opportunity of educating ourselves and creating an environment where victims are not ashamed to talk about what happened to them.
I am talking about the “Leaving Neverland” documentary. I am adding the trailer here because it provides a powerful summary, in case you did not see it. I shall not review it, there is no way to do that, you have to see it to understand it. It is powerful, descriptive and complex. I particularly liked (if I can say liked in such a context…) how the effect on the entire family was described. The perspective was very detailed and it is very revealing. I can honestly admit that it was very difficult for me to watch all this, but it was worth it.
I am no judge and I honestly could not care less about MJ. For me, it was obvious since forever that he was a child molester and I was always furious that this was allowed to happen. The signs are there, but the amount of delusion, fanatics, money and image stunts clouded people´s vision for decades. What I write here is not about him, nor will it ever be.
For one sole comment on Instagram I have received 23 private messages from aggressive delusional MJ “fans” (one even accusing me that I am faking my own abuse story, because a victim would never write such a thing, I should be too ashamed to talk). The public comments were in the range of “he is dead, let him rest in peace” or “he was a genius with the heart of a child”. Many celebrities hurried to defend him, including Barbara Streisand stating that the abuse didn´t kill them, so basically no worries (She later presented apologies. Either way, she kind of admitted the abuse happened, so she did more than others). Many people were joking about this. Many people hurried to state that this is surely another attack on the image of this pop angel.
So, the thing is that I have no proof in order to decide if they are telling the truth or not. But I believe them. Fully and unconditionally. I write this here just because I feel we should be aware that taking into account the 1 in 4 statistics, there are many ex-victims (or even current victims) being witnesses of the general reaction to this documentary. What does this reaction tell us?
- If you were unlucky enough to be abused by a rich celebrity, nobody will believe you, because you will most surely go after his money and there is no way you could be telling the truth.
- If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to have survived your abuser, your story is basically dismissed. Let the abuser rest in peace, because we can´t talk bad about dead people, right? Doesn´t matter if you are stuck with trauma for your whole life, if the abuser is dead, hooray, ignore it!
- If you want to talk about your story of being abused by a famous person, there will be by default some 109083 delusional aggressive fans that are unable to see the truth because they are mainly in love with an image. They can and will attack you in any way possible.
- Child grooming is not the same for everybody. If you are a big pop star, you are doing this because you have a big child heart. If you are, let´s say, a janitor, better be prepared to be arrested soon. Because double standards are a thing.
- You are not allowed to change your words. Never, because there is no way you could have mixed feeling, proven by hundreds of specialists in the field.
- You are not allowed to remember everything too precisely. Who remembers so many details is surely a liar, right? I mean who would remember the day they were raped by the most famous pop singer in history? No, it can´t be.
- Even if the abuse stories are true, don´t imagine that the abuser is the one to blame. No, the mothers are the ones to blame (not too much detail on the fathers, of course). Why bother understanding how an abuser grooms the family, how many times an abuser is a person from the close circle, having gained the trust of the whole family?
- You are not to cry too much.
- You are not to laugh, either. I mean, who can laugh after such a thing? You must surely lie.
- You are not to ever go back to a place called Neverland, a sort of Disneyland, only better, although you are a child. Or even later, as an adult. That completely destroys your narrative.
Guess that sums it up. The facts are:
- Very few cases of fake allegations of child sexual abuse exist. The signs, the symptoms, the details, these are things one cannot fake. You cannot fake the trembling lip or the lost gaze of the victims. For those who say they are liars, well, they should be awarded an Oscar already then. Because I think that not even Leonardo di Caprio could pull out such a performance. And even assuming that they are indeed liars, they were trained, I suppose that is what people think. Well, they were trained to perfection then, so we should all pay attention to how abuse survivors might look. They do not have a huge label on their head, but you can see it in their eyes. Always.
- It is also frequent that during the abuse, especially if it is long-term and with a person close to the family, the child tries to defend his abuser. So stop wondering why the stories changed. They changed because abuse is very difficult to cope with, especially by a child. The brain works in a way that can maintain us alive and it is proven that most of us realize that we were abused about 20 years after. The flood of images and details can be overwhelming, but the so-called “invented memories” are also proven to be very rare.
- In the grooming process, the child even becomes dependent to the abuser. You can see it in the documentary, they were even sad when the abuse ended. You can cry big ugly tears when the abuser is dead, in the most twisted touch of absurdity. It happened to me and I am still wondering: how was I so stupid? But I was not stupid, I was abused. The courage to talk often appears after the abuser´s death, so there is nothing out of the ordinary with these people talking now.
- This one is an obvious one, but for some people still impossible to fully understand: sexual abuse during childhood can hurt you in so many complex ways that it is basically impossible to list. Anxiety, suicidal ideation, drug abuse are just the known ones. So, before judging a victim´s words or actions, please think twice.
I promise you, I am getting somewhere with this seemingly never-ending essay. Here it is: we, as a society, should be smarter about this topic. We should always show respect and empathy to the victims. We should stop already with the victim labeling. We should just try to understand and help this become a normal conversation, which can heal and prevent. We should stop demanding victims to speak in a certain manner or time frame. There is no right way to act as a victim. We should never, under any circumstances, blame the victim.
As for the documentary (And I write this because maybe some lost aggresive MJ fan appears around here): they are maybe liars, you are entitled to that opinion. But the documentary focuses on the victims´ journeys. You can choose to support a child molester (because I have no doubt that he was and if you are honest with yourself you can also see the signs), but not attack the victims´ right to speak. You can defend your idol without hurting other victims. You can continue to listen to his music, but respect the fact that for some survivors that can prove difficult and trigger flashbacks. Overall, you can be a decent human being and just be grateful that you are lucky enough to not understand a thing about how abuse works and how victims react. To keep your luck going, though, it is mandatory to educate yourself and this documentary does just that: it provides victims and survivors with something to relate to.
It takes a lot of courage to speak in a world not prepared to hear your voice. And my fear is that yet another chance was lost by dismissing this story and this discussion. I am hopeful, though. I need to be.
Featured photo from https://unsplash.com/photos/rE3kbKmLmhE