Monday, March 27, 2023

Sometimes You Don't Know

 Content Note: Discussions alluding to  sexual harassment/abuse. 

I wrote a while back about how sometimes the people who seem and often are inappropriate but not harmful to you, can turn out to be inappropriate and harmful to others: 
Well, let's talk about the opposite thing. Sometimes people who have always been delightful to and near you, are not that way with everyone. And are in fact being quite harmful to others. 
It can be a huge shock to learn this. It feels like a failure of all your warning systems to discover this about someone. 
You are not a failure if you didn't know. No matter how finely calibrated your systems are, some people are going to get past them. It would be lovely if folks who misused their power all came with flashing neon signs, but they do not. In fact abusers and other varieties of jerks, work hard to be delightful to a good number of people, so that you will say, no, that can't be right. 
Sure, there are people who set off every alarm bell, but most won't. Some folks are going to turn out to be horrible and it will be a shock. It sucks. Obviously it sucks more for the folks they victimized, but it still sucks. 
It is okay to be sad when these discoveries occur. It is okay to feel and to process. It is also important to remember that those directly harmed deserve the most support. Our culture really is steeped in trauma disclosure, and it really likes to ask survivors to describe all the terrible things done in great detail. 
Survivors do not owe us this. They may choose to do this, and that is their prerogative.