The Face–and Soul–of Abuse, Part 2

Phyllis Nissila

I am posting on this topic again today because, in light of the revelations by several women who, they allege, were taken advantage of sexually, at best, raped, at worst, by a very famous celebrity back in the day, one more thing occurs to me.

Whether or not the allegations are true (for this is not my point, here, and justice needs to ensue), what is true is the fact that something happened to so many women from such diverse areas and eras to have come forth.

Why, first of all, would they come out of obscurity/safety, if you will, at this time to testify to those events?

Setting aside the fact that perhaps one, maybe more, want to “cash in” on some kind of secondary “fame/remittance,” why do this in such a “dangerous” way?

Dangerous?

Well, look at the backlash by the rich and famous and powerful…and by ordinary people who shift blame to them while, in a state of cognitive dissonance because of his sterling presentation to the world in public and in profession think, “surely not HIM!”

Why expose oneself to that, if not for some great, compelling reason; some need for closure, justice, peace, comprehension, or, if only to stop the self- and society-blaming voices in head, heart, and spirit that erode peace, well-being…and more.

I am reminded of the words of one woman I know well, a member of my extended family, who, after exposing and bringing to what justice she could (many years after the facts of her experience), said of her predator who started molesting and raping her when she was four years of age and did not stop until she stopped him when she was nine, “I’ll bet that he never thought that that little four year-old girl he threatened into silence and assaulted way back then would one day pursue justice.”

In the interim, however, note: she suffered in many, many ways as she doggedly sought justice, resolution, peace, HEALTH, starting when she was in her twenties when she first was able to garner the strength (and the funds to begin therapy) to address the horrible, awful secret.

She is still, now in her fifties, recovering in physical ways from all that (including major pelvic floor reconstructive surgery a few years ago for the physical effects of the assaults on her tiny body back then).

By the way, when she finally did pull herself together mentally, psychologically, and spiritually, with the help of therapists, counselors, and friends, to confront this man, the police, though sympathetic, told her, “Sorry, the statute of limitations is up.”

But, thanks to one of her counselors, just a few years ago, now that the laws have changed somewhat, there was an amount of confronting and documenting that could and has been done that will at least protect his grandchildren. We hope and pray.

But, some will think, these cases in the news are different! Those women who accuse the celebrity were all grown up when those thing they allege happened, happened!

And weren’t they just looking to get ahead in their careers? They shouldn’t have been there/done that/accepted the drinks/drugs/ and so on…

Ah, yes. Easy to assume. But consider: there is historical context to consider as well.

The young may not remember or know much about how it used to be between men and women (and still is here and there), the kinds of cultural messages, as it were, that enabled some men to claim advantage over women, to feel entitled to molest with a sense of impunity, for laughs or worse. (A brief review of certain movies and television shows from back then, even in this “enlightened” nation, may help.)

Cultural mores and popular memes are sometimes hard to define. It might take a close examination to expose the underpinnings, the error, the “unintended consequences,” at best, “crimes” at worst.

And the alleged molestations took place not that many years ago!

The young may not understand that even in the ER, the attitudes of the doctors and nurses back then were not necessarily in their favor…and in police departments, the same, and attorneys could bring up all manner of evidence against HER in court, such as, well, look at how she was dressed, and think about the fact that she was sexually active elsewhere, and, after all, she WAS drinking at that party or in that bar…

Granted, it is imprudent for anyone to be in places where evil is more likely to lurk, but is this, then, just about her immature or unwise choice of social venues, even her professional ambitions, or can we get back to the real issue?

Back then, there wasn’t all this talk of “taking back the night,” and “girl power,” and “No means no.”

Historically, there was context…

Once again, I am not necessarily supporting any allegations, here, of the women accusing the man in question. I am using the occasion only to shed a little more light on the issue.

I fear we have a long way to go, but exposure to the realities of abuse, be it sexual, physical, verbal, psychological, or spiritual, needs to continue to be part of civilized conversation, fact-finding, and problem solving.

Individual victims can and may recover, find the strength to heal and forgive, as they will–although forget, they never will.

Perpetrators, we can only hope, can and may fess up, make restitution, and do the hard work of recovery themselves…

I only hope that the young woman in the video is okay now.

And for some who might think, “she’s just an actress,” perhaps it will help if you to go down to the police department and ask to see some pictures, if you can, of what you might deem “real” victims.

Or, if you know someone who works in the ER, ask him or her what “real” abuse looks like.

Or, visit to a local women’s shelter and have a talk with staff there about what they see on any given day, night.

Truth is, what you will see and hear about is not a lot different, often, worse than what you viewed in the video (linked in the first post on this topic).

Oh, there’s one more place you might visit.

The morgue.

Sound harsh?

Abuse is harsh.

Sometimes, even fatal.

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