Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Sin Against Victims

I tried to strip emotion out of my disapproval of authors pretending to be something they aren’t to sell books but the truth is, this hurts every single victim of sexual abuse and victim of the sex trade industry, still grappling with their pain.

The reality is, victims of sexual abuse usually go through years of suppressing their pain before they can even begin to deal with it. When someone comes along, creates an alter ego, pretends to be something they aren’t and does it for commercial gain it contributes to an aura of mistrust. The result is that, for victims who actually do speak out, their credibility is called into question because of the deception of others.

One of the reasons most people do not candidly admit to abuse is the shame. There are still a lot of people who believe that if a woman’s been raped, she must have done something to deserve it. Some people cling to that because they want to protect themselves, they need to persuade themselves that it couldn’t happen to them. They don’t like feeling vulnerable, so it’s much easier to judge and blame than to acknowledge that yes, truly innocent people can end up as victims.

Beyond the physical repercussions of abuse, the psychological scars can take a lifetime to heal, if they ever do. And when someone masquerades as a victim for commercial gain it’s like spitting in the face of every real victim out there.

As one amazon review says, The artist is deceitful above all things.

It is unconscionable to pass yourself off as a person dying of AIDS. To those with HIV, AIDS, or those who love or are caregivers to them, it is a horrid, hideous assault. (S)he has insulted every single person who has ever died of AIDS that it defies metaphor.

When I thought the traumas described in this book were part of an abuse pattern that eventually led to HIV infection (by that I mean having been beaten down so horrifyingly that your mindset is such that you are capable of's complicated, but trust me on this), I was moved as powerfully as if I had been hit by a bus. Now I'm furious. The writing, good if written by a teenager, is rather pedestrian now that we know the source.

I'm nearly as sad as I am furious. I thought we had a fascinating addition to the lexicon of literature. Now, we have less than nothing.

I can’t agree with the last line, though. I have to say that we don’t have less than nothing. What we have is an enormous insult, an offense against all who understand what it is to really be a victim.

The truth is, it’s hard to tell these stories. First there’s the shame the victims deal with, and the prolonged healing process that (in some respects) never really ends. There’s also the sense of the taboo around being a victim of sexual assault. Shhhh. It’s not polite to talk about that. People don’t want to know.

Yes, it offends a good number of people and pushes them right out of their comfort zone, to know that people have suffered at the hands of another. Well I’m so damned sorry for you to have to acknowledge that not everyone’s having a perfect existence on planet earth. A serial sex offender who raped a woman at knifepoint and left her in a remote, unheated cabin in frigid weather overnight was handed a seven-year prison term yesterday.
Franklin James Noskey, 45, who court heard has previously been convicted of four other sex attacks - including three on pre-teen girls - was also ordered to be placed on the national sex offender registry for life.
Need more evidence of the number of victims out there? Evil Kev’s hometown is being rocked by scandal as a teacher faces five counts of sexual assault. The victims? Twelve-year-old girls. Not shocking enough? After admitting he brutally raped his two-year-old daughter twice, an Edmonton father blamed it on booze and told cops it might be due to the girl looking like her mom.

I know too many women who’ve been victims not to be upset by this. Part of the reason some victims never try to hide the truth is that they know they have nothing to be ashamed of. Being a victim doesn’t make you garbage. If my being open about that reality helps even one person feel less alienated, less alone, then it’s worth it.

When we conceal the sins of others in some respects we’re condoning them, and help perpetuate further crimes. There were too many years of raped women being married off or girls being sent away, their child raised as their sibling. Too many years of secrets that did nothing more than compound the damage, extend the suffering, and protect the guilty.

And that’s what really gets me about the deception of the author in question. There are a lot of very real abused kids who end up on the streets because of their abuse, who end up enduring more abuse. Someone assuming that identity and exploiting that in order to make a buck is just one more person blatantly trying to fuck them over. Shame on them.

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