I am over seeing photos of Oprah with Weinstein. Here’s a hot fucking tip for everyone: abusers are everywhere, and we all know them. There are dozens of photos of me with my rapist—laughing beside him, striking a goofy pose, kissing him. And you know what? None of them make me any less raped by him. And that, if we are being real, leads me to the piece of information I struggled with for years while he was abusing me: I loved my rapist. I loved him as my best friend for almost a decade, and he entire time he was abusing me. Because he was fun, and he was funny, and I had known him most of my life, and at dinner I loved his company—but at home when he kept going after I said stop, I did not love that. I loved that person, but he still abused me. It took me a year to even say the word out loud—a year of being balled on my bathroom floor trying to reconcile it, the betrayal, how can someone I care about also be hurting me. And who am I if I still care about him after he does? Surely someone who deserves it. Surely someone who doesn’t get to ask for help or support. I was my biggest silencer. I made excuses for his abuse that he didn’t even have the courtesy to come up with because I couldn’t process the betrayal. Because if it was true who could I ever trust again? And I wasn’t ready for how alone and afraid that made me. I didn’t think anyone would believe me, or care, or not blame me for it because here I was, still with him, still smiling in the photos, still going to the party. I didn’t deserve to stop it. That’s what I thought.
What it took me years to realize was that these people are our partners, our friends, our parents, our co workers, our bosses, our heroes, our acquaintances. They are all of those things, AND then on a dime, with one decision, they can simultaneously become our abusers. And they don’t cease to be all the other things they are and were just because now they are also rapists. And it is no small feat to suddenly have to unpack it. And a lot of survivors don’t unpack it. I didn’t. For a decade I just put that box in my basement and went “That’s a whole mess I can’t take on and survive.” And I swallowed hard and I decided I would be a “cool chick”, the option he gave me for how to forget the abuse, and move past it.
Understand that we get NO rewards for speaking out and EVERY reward for swallowing that razor blade and soldiering forward.
Stop showing me Oprah and Weinstein. Stop showing me Streep with “she knew” ok her face. Of course she fucking knew. We all fucking know. I have never thought to myself “oh shit other women will never believe this” of course they will. Every time I flip a rock 20 bugs scurry out from under it. Every woman I tell that knows the dude either heard something already or had something happen. Abusers are efficient, and they abuse people close to them because those are the people who have the hardest time talking about it, because it’s more than an attack, it’s a betrayal. We have to reveal ourselves, become vulnerable and challenged to do it. Because we know that last week we were laughing at his jokes at fucking john’s house and this week we should update everyone that he’s a rapist now, as of last night, and if you think that’s easy, I envy you for never having to be in that situation.
You see Oprah and her credibility being shot because she what, existed in a very public very convoluted industry with a monster? You see a woman who suddenly isn’t telling the truth because she, gasp, knew a dude who was an abuser and it looks as though she liked him even? Congrats on being the reason women don’t speak up. Congrats on fostering the exact conditions that make women who have been abused by men they like, or loved, or at the very least knew, swallow themselves and say nothing. Reality is: I know men who have abused women, in their past, right now, in the future. Maybe even men who will abuse me someday. That was true of my own rapist, I knew him, long before he hurt me. I met my abuser in grade 4 on the way home from the public pool. I was 11. People sharing these photos think they are saying “what a hypocrite” I see them and think “look at the fucking hold he had.”
I was friends with my rapist. He still raped me. No amount of photos of me enjoying his company discredit my story, or anyone else’s he hurt that I speak up for now. No amount of photos diminish my right to talk about abuse, share my experiences or call a rapist out for the scum-lord he is.
Don’t ask why women kept quiet, ask what you’re doing to make it easier for us to speak up. And better still, listen the fuck up when we spit these names out.