You guys, I don’t want to break your hearts, but it’s time to have a come to Jesus about the news this weekend. Eliza Dushku announced publicly that when she was a little girl on the movie True Lies, her stunt coordinator, Joel Kramer, molested her. My news feed is blowing up about a different story, though, and I want to take a second for us to think about why.
So, this is a weird conversation to have because I don’t want to make it sound like somehow I think media attention is, or should be, a reward for victimization. In the work I’ve done with child abuse survivors, I’ve seen that media attention is often a punishment and is certainly not a reward. But, also, we live in a culture that silences and condemns stories of childhood abuse, and that needs to change. When we say nothing, the abuse victim often lives in their own internal story that everyone is judging them.
We live in a culture that loves talking about dating problems and awkward misunderstandings between men and women (even in a way we should talk about, as with the story that has caught fire this week), but we have not yet learned how to talk about childhood trauma.
Do we think childhood molestation is boring? It seems like that is not possibly the case.
Do we disbelieve the stories? That seems sometimes true. But, even when we believe them, we often don’t talk about them.
I think we don’t say anything because we don’t want to be complicit. We think by saying something, we will say the wrong thing, and that will become another trauma for the person we want to support. We think that somehow what we say will make us complicit in the culture that made that abuse possible.
But, you know what? We are complicit. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Arnold can look back and say they would have done something if they had known. I can look back and say I couldn’t do anything because I was a child at the time. But, those are weird responses because it’s like we’re trying to wash our hands of the story.
We were complicit then, and we are still complicit now. Especially in our silence we are complicit. We each live in a culture that still makes this kind of abuse of girls and boys possible, and it happens every day. Each moment of silence we take because we don’t want to say something wrong is part of it. Each child who is worried to say something wrong and so stays silent is part of it.
It is so recently that child abuse became illegal that it is no wonder we still don’t know what to do about stories of it. It is one of those horrors, where it seems like acknowledging it lets it exist.
But, it exists either way.
The word complicit means, “involved with others in an illegal activity.” I am complicit with the abusers and those who have kept silent about abuse in letting the abuse be possible, and so are you. But, I am also complicit (and I hope you are too) in a new kind of activity that sometimes seems just as illegal – of women and men speaking out about their experiences and the crimes committed against them as children. I want to be complicit in honoring these stories and the people brave enough to tell them. I hope you will too. #complicit #timesup