“PM Me If I’m Friends With Your Abuser”: Why That $#%t Doesn’t Work
TW: The following article discusses sexual trauma, abuse, and assault from a victims perspective. While it does not give details, it does go in depth on an emotional level and may be triggering for some. Proceed with caution
This week has been, for lack of a better word, trying for survivors of sexual abuse, misconduct, and harassment. I'd throw some statistics here, but chances are if you're reading this, you've been a victim at some point. Stats can only account for those who come forward. It doesn't account for those suffering in silence at every Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein water cooler talk at the office.
While you can usually plug in your earphones and drown them out while you work (guilty), there's just one Facebook post that I can't seem to get away from.
Ah, a nice little meme. A way for your friends to show solidarity with you. A chance to have someone not only believe you, but take action.
So...why do I not feel great about this pic being shared?
First Of All, This Should've Been Done A Long Time Ago
It should not take a meme. It should not take a high profile court case. It should not take several high profile court cases.
Because some of y'all knew. But felt I was too drunk. Felt my "no" wasn't clear enough. Felt it didn't count because we were dating. Felt I was sleeping around anyway.
So don't pretend you're my ally now.
So This Is Awkward, My Abuser is Your Significant Other or Family Member
There's a level of pain seeing someone on your friends list, cuddled up, smiling with your abuser. Your abuser has friends, your abuser gets engaged, your abuser has kids.
But what's even more painful is seeing that partner post that. Maybe you don't even realize they are together until you look through their profile. But it it remains: do I tell the truth? Do i risk being called a liar? What is that going to do for my healing?
Sending A Name, Just A Name, No Details, Could Make Me Relive My Trauma
Because that name is ruined for me now. That name is forever printed in my head surrounded by fear, anger, hurt, and confusion (gaslighting is a bitch!).
I can't type that name, because it's at the very top of an unstable tower and typing that name would be the final structure to have it all come crashing down.
There's so much fear of being called a liar, of you wanting to press for details, and also that I just may never stop crying after typing that name.
I just need you to know. It hurts.
Ok, So What Should We Do Instead?
You need ction. A meme is a passive gesture. Anyone can share a meme. But what do you plan to do after you get that name? Are you really going to block them? Are you going to confront them? Cut them out of your life?
You gotta have the uncomfortable yet authentic conversations with your friends. If you want to know if you're connected to an abuser, gain peoples trust. No one will open up to you unless they trust you first. Talk with your friends. Look out for your friends. Intervene when you see something that isn't ok.
*Forrest Gump voice* And that's all I have to say about that.