believe the abused when they talk about their experiences

"Talking Gibberish" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Talking Gibberish” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Buy a print of this cartoon HERE.

I read R. L. Stollar’s post yesterday, What It Means to Take Abuse Seriously. It’s a must read. And it inspired today’s cartoon. Thanks Mr. Stollar.

I’ve learned a lot this last year about how the abused share their experiences and how they are received.

Many people immediately dismiss the message because of the medium it is delivered in:

  • usually in the shape of a woman
  • frequently upset
  • often emotionally charged
  • sometimes hysterical
  • mostly uncorroborated
  • generally unbelievable
  • always disturbing

Here is a relevant quote from my favorite philosopher alive, Slavoj Žižek, in his work, Violence: Six Sideways Reflections (Big Ideas/Small Books):

“A dispassionate conceptual development of the typology of violence must by definition ignore its traumatic impact. Yet there is a sense in which a cold analysis of violence somehow reproduces and participates in its horror. A distinction needs to be made, as well, between (factual) truth and truthfulness: what renders a report of a raped woman (or any other narrative of a trauma) truthful is its very factual unreliability, its confusion, its inconsistency. If the victim were able to report on her painful and humiliating experience in a clear manner, with all the data arranged in a consistent order, this very quality would make us suspicious of its truth.”

When people share with me their stories of abuse, I believe them. Do you?

Consider joining our community The Lasting Supper, where we will believe you when you share your experiences.

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16 Responses

  1. Bill Kinnon says:

    You are on a tear, my friend. Another excellent graphic truth – figuratively and literally!

  2. Rick Diamond says:

    You’re doing excellent work, as always, Nekkid (as we say in Texas) Pastor.

  3. Jim Wehde says:

    Wonderful comic, and tragic. Thank you for siding with those without a voice.

  4. Thank you for liking it 🙂

  5. Jarred H says:

    That’s a great quote. Yes, people need to understand that victims are often upset and emotionally charged BECAUSE they’ve been through an upsetting and emotionally charged ordeal. To expect them to behave in a way counter to that experience makes no sense.

    As for their stories being uncorroborated, I once again point to how abusers often groom and isolate their victims. That tends to lead to those victims’ experiences being uncorroboratable by design.

  6. Jeannie Moburg says:

    I see the invisible child of abuse lying next to her…….no voice to cry out.

  7. Yes Jeannie. That woman represents all abused. Great point!

  8. Sara WG says:

    As always- Thank you.

  9. As always- Your’e welcome! 🙂

  10. Although I understand that Zizek is trying to be supportive of victims in the section you quoted, I have actually met a rape victim who was told her story was not credible because she was too calm. If it was true, they said, she would have been much more upset.

    Sometimes victims are just damned whatever they do.

  11. Jennie says:

    I agree with Jonny. I never told anyone about what happened to me until long after it happened, and the only way I could was by training myself to do it rationally and calmly. Part of that was because I was never allowed to show negative emotions as a kid, and part of it was because I was afraid I wouldn’t be believed if I was hysterical and upset. I have also never let anyone else see me when I’m most upset because then I would have to deal with their emotions over my emotions on top of the difficult emotions. It’s a way to protect myself.

  12. Brandi says:

    Thank you for this one. Abuse has been weighing on my mind a lot the past couple days (especially the fact that the victims are often not believed). Sometimes when we tell our stories, we aren’t consistent with the facts because we’re so traumatized. At other times, we’re almost to the point of numbness… detached from the events… so we are calm. I’ve been both depending on which experience I’m retelling…. and it never mattered my demeanor. Some people just refuse to believe.

  13. Thanks all. All good points. Yes, as my post states, we should listen no matter how the message is delivered.

  14. Jill says:

    It is of importance to me to attend this discourse because it is a primary reason why I cannot find my way into Christian churches. No matter how pleasant the people and progressive the theology, the experience continues to feel like wearing a shrunken wool sweater in July… uneasy.

    Women (and people of color, and LGBTQ+, etc) are sub-classed and their needs unmet, specifically in Church. How can anyone feel at peace and at one with any supreme deity when this gets so sidelined?

    I really don’t want to talk about church groups that empower women and young girls in this, my seeming multi-faceted rant. I want to know where is the training and conditioning of a culture that doesn’t question until *after* damage is done. And then, the loudest questions are: did she make it up? Can she prove it?

    If we collectively refuse to face a spiritual culture of ruling and sub-classes, we’ll never get farther than this talking and lamenting stage. In my frustrated opinion.

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