how I knew which victim to believe

Photo by Sarah Chai from Pexels

They always tell you to believe the victim.

The problem is, they never tell you how to identify the victim. Like most people in my position, I had to figure it out on my own. It was exhausting, painful, and I often took my anger out on the wrong person. I’d like for others not to have to go through the same.

Because whatever the articles tell you, it isn’t easy. They make it sound like it’s a Marvel action movie, where the bad guy is basically THERE from the beginning (with some kind of evil identifier. You know, they LOOK like the bad guy.)

But really, it’s more like a murder mystery, where you’re trying to figure out what’s going on and if you’re not paying attention it’s like Agatha Christie, with random clues coming out of nowhere, right at the last minute, and you’re like, “Wait, what happened?”

So here goes nothing:

1). The victim isn’t always the first to speak up.

Sometimes you (luck out?) and the abuser is stupid enough to be easily caught. And the victim has time to come forward. But often as not the abuser isn’t stupid. They silence their victims long enough for the abuser to come forward first. So that everyone has already “believed the victim,” and if they say anything, it’s because they are petty and trying to cause drama.

2). Victims don’t always keep their stories straight.

Many don’t want to believe they are being abused. Many genuinely aren’t sure. Whatever the reason, they may often change what they say they want– but their true stories, like those of their abusers, WILL come out over time. Eg. “I can’t live with [abusive person] anymore.” And the next day, “You know, what, it’s really not that bad. They bought my favorite food for dinner.” But nobody can lie or hide forever. The truth does come out, if you are patient.

3). Victims do want to be heard.

If you stay calm and open to them, no matter what, they will learn to trust you. They will tell you the truth. Eventually, they start telling everyone the truth. But victims do need a safe space, because they don’t trust easily and they need to know you will be there for them. Always.

If you know anything else to help recognize and support victims, feel free to share 🙂

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