No wonder abuse victims stay silent

Opinion: Letters to the editor

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At a rally last week, President Trump ridiculed and mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's account of being sexually assaulted. While he did so, people at the rally laughed and cheered. If anyone wonders why victims of abuse are reluctant to come forward they need only watch the cruel and disgraceful conduct at that rally.

We might never know what happened to Dr. Ford behind a closed door, but we do know what happened at that rally last week. We all heard that laughter.

With their base conduct, the people at that rally tried to cover the mouths of countless victims of abuse who long to tell their stories. The question for the rest of us is whether we are going to be complicit in trying to silence those victims or step up to insure that they are heard.

Regardless of whether we believe any particular allegation of abuse, surely we can agree that victims of abuse deserve the right to tell their stories without being ridiculed and mocked. Surely we can condemn such abusive laughter and demand that it be replaced with compassion and respect. Otherwise we become accomplices to abuse.

Victims of abuse are often haunted by a fragment of a memory – a phrase, a smell, a sound – that coalesces their suffering into an indelible image. As long as these images remain locked away in the recesses of the soul, they remain unaltered over time, ready to emerge at any moment painful as a fresh cut.

These images cannot simply be dismissed by an act of will. Victims of abuse need our support to drive away their demons. It is extremely difficult for victims to reclaim what was taken from them, but we can help them to begin. First we say "tell us what happened." And then we listen.

Ben Sells

Riverside

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Helen Gallagher from Riverside  

Posted: October 9th, 2018 8:48 PM

In these last few weeks, I have been urged to make a change in the language I use in this context. Survivors. As an ally and advocate, I am working to replace the word victims with survivors. Consider rereading Ben's letter with this adjustment and see what you think.

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