I have been disheartened in a deeply personal way by the response of the candidate for President to the accusations of sexual abuse. Perhaps it is because I have heard the same kinds of statements throughout my life. “It never happened.” “Who would abuse her?” “Why is everyone blaming me?” “I would never ever have done such a thing.” “She must be crazy to be saying these things.”
Denial is a mystery to me. I think that in general it is just a way to try to divert the attention back to the victim. And denial has a chilling effect on the listener. Even the victim is vulnerable to questioning her own experience. The experience of trauma is real, but sometimes the details are remembered, sometimes not. Sometimes we remember the car was black when really it was blue. When someone puts the focus on the color of the car, we may back off from our very real experience of sexual assault in a car, no matter the color.
May we continue to, as the early women in the movement in the 60’s would say, “Listen each other into speech.” May we support each other, women and men both, in acknowledging the truth of sexual violence commonly perpetrated by men in power against women and men with less power. Let’s let truth, not denial, have the last word.