Believe Women

I can’t begin to imagine the pain that the last couple weeks has caused to the survivors of abuse in our midst – as a male in this society, I learn more and more every day how many of the women around us have suffered abuse at the hands of men, and I am ashamed that our culture has come to this point. I only hope that the increased shining of light by the #MeToo movement, and the courage of women who have stood up and told their stories, can bring some positive change.

I was moved last week by a Twitter thread I was reading, where the original poster had posited this question to women: “If all men in the world had a 9pm curfew, how would that change your life?”. The responses from women – “I would go for walks at night in my neighborhood”, “I would answer the door after dark”, “I would do my grocery shopping in peace” – went on and on. The striking thing about it (of course), is that most of them were things that I (or most other men) wouldn’t think twice about doing. Our society has built a culture of fear for women, and that fear has become so ingrained over the decades that it has become invisible, or at least accepted as status quo – but is instantly thrown into the light by a simple question like this.

I don’t presume to speak for women, or to understand how it feels to be on the hard side of this terrible equation.

I will say, I don’t understand how – when a woman comes forward (against all the fear of retribution, guilt, shame, etc. that they have been programmed for) with a story of abuse, and the man on the other side of the equation denies it – how anyone can just dismiss that woman’s story out-of-hand. History (and especially recent history) has proven over and over and over, that men in positions of power will exercise that power to get what they want from people they consider “below” them – and when that person is a woman, what they want from that woman more often than not, results in sexual abuse.

How often do we hear this story, and the gender roles are reversed? How many times do we hear that a woman has used her position to abuse a man? Simple logic shows, that all things being equal – if a woman says she was abused by a man, and the man denies it – the odds are overwhelming that it is the woman who is telling the truth.

The person who denies this, the person who pushes back and maintains that this is some kind of conspiracy, or that they are being “set up”, or whatever – the odds are also overwhelming that that person is somebody who is just grasping at their power, afraid that it will be taken away.

It’s important for us to remember that, even though there has been an overwhelming number of these stories in the media – of CEOs, movie producers, politicians, judges, celebrities – for every one of those stories, there are thousands (millions, really) more that are unreported. A position of power doesn’t have to be a big enough to make headlines, for it to be a position of power that gives one person abusive leverage over another. The same politics of power applies to the manager at the local coffee shop, as it does to the CEO of a major corporation. Abuse happens at all economic levels, and in all communities – it is only a tiny, tiny fraction that we hear about.

No one person, and I mean no-one, is in the position where they can judge why a woman may not have told her story before. I find it incredible that any person (and especially any man) could presume that he could put himself in the place of a woman who has been abused, and say “why didn’t she do this” or “why didn’t she do that”. The depths of how that abuse have woven itself into the survivor’s life can only be known to the person who suffered the abuse.

As I’ve said many times, this is one of the key tenets that Open Diary was built on – we never know the story that is happening in another person’s head. It is impossible for any of us to assume we know the reasons why a survivor may or may not have told her story before – but those reasons are hers alone, and they are valid and true, simply by being part of her experience. She deserves respect first, regardless of how or when (or if) she tells her story.

If I have learned anything in the past couple weeks from the many courageous women who have stood up and told their stories – it is that there is an unseen rot of sexual abuse in our society, and that abuse has overwhelmingly been perpetrated by men against women.

It can only be abolished through awareness. Men in power who are tempted to abuse women will never stop, unless they are invested with a legitimate fear that their spouses, neighbors, friends, and community members will find out – and if they know that a simple denial is not enough to clear their names.

It has taken generations to get to where we are now, I can only hope it won’t take generations to recover from. Shining light on this problem, and believing women first, is a good first step.


Log in to write a note
October 5, 2018

Maybe if we started something like #womenfirst then more women would come forward and the jerks who abuse them will go to jail?  I think most men are good decent people because their mothers raised them to be decent men.  I think people like Trump who thinks abusing wommen and children is okay should be one of the first to do time in a maximum jail and he can tell us what it’s like when someone says bend over…..I think what you have said here is right on and I think mens attitudes have to change and the reason why they abuse women is not an excuse anymore.

October 5, 2018

Thank you, love. While women are becoming more empowered to speak, the unfortunate reality is that men must hear from other men also, before they will listen.

Also- the word “credibility,” has become traumatic to many of us who were so damaged by sexual abuse that our lives have made us people who would never be deigned reliable enough to stand before senate.

I wrote about we #incrediblesurvivor types on my most recent entry. For those of you who may be reading here, who could never stand before a senate and be deemed credible, please know you have my belief and that of so many others, like the DM, who recognize the trauma.

if you need an ear, I am here for you, too.

October 5, 2018

What have we learned from the Duke Lacrosse case and the Rolling Stone UVA case?

October 5, 2018

@trunorth So, are you suggesting that since there are some high profile cases where a young woman lied, that all women are lying when they make the accusation? Every woman I know, down to each and every one has been sexually assaulted at some point in her life. Are you suggesting that we all are lying?

October 5, 2018

@trunorth – women falsely recant far more often than they falsely accuse. For more colloquial evidence, start talking to victims. The GOP is obfuscating.

October 5, 2018

@e3 I do not know the statistics of recanting, but I can say with certainty that in some states, once an allegation of sexual assault or family violence has been made to the police, the accuser doesn’t have the ability to stop the legal system. I am very certain that is the law in Washington State, but may be the same in other states too. Sadly, I am personally aware of a woman who has made 8 separate domestic violence claims against 8 different men over the past five years. What is the odds of that happening? In each case to date, the men have been found not guilty but not after spending $5k to $10k to clear their names. Even after their not-guilty verdicts, they are looked at suspiciously in their small town. Not once has this woman been charged with false report to a police officer or perjury. Very sad.

October 5, 2018

@emiliasdance I am suggesting that not all women tell the truth.

October 5, 2018

@trunorth Not all men tell the truth either. The automatic assumption should not be that the woman is lying.

October 5, 2018

@emiliasdance I totally agree that the automatic assumption should not be that the woman is lying.  However it should not be automatically assumed that she is always telling the truth.  Sometimes accusers are motivated by something other than the truth.  Regardless of the gender of the accuser, people should wait until the facts are presented before jumping to conclusions.

October 5, 2018

@trunorth But the accused always has an agenda, self preservation. Until suspected otherwise the accuser should be believed.

October 5, 2018

@emiliasdance The accuser may have an agenda too – for example: political motives, or monetary gain, or revenge, or pursuit of power/ fame, or pressure from others.   I prefer the old adage “innocent until proven guilty”.

October 20, 2018

@trunorth Exactly. We don’t believe the men or women… we follow the EVIDENCE.

October 5, 2018

It is a big problem in our society and you have done a very good job not making your post political. Thank you for that. Over my 53 years of life, I have seen many issues in society swing from left to right and back. This seems to me right now as one of those issues. My fear is that because this issue has become so divisive in the last three weeks, we will have less women believed who deserve justice for what happened to them yesterday or the day before.

October 5, 2018

@altair – the. Maybe citing the case where your one female has a tendency to enter into caustic relationships isn’t the very best thing to do. Maybe the very best thing to do is listen to those who ARE speaking up, and honor that their trauma has made even the act of speaking difficult.


maybe we should be training every young boy and man about consent, and changing sexual dynamics that force women into shame.


Theres a lot it to be done. But entitled, well to do, conservative white women talking about liars is NOT going to bring more truth to the front. They are the number one force keeping women shut up. I speak from AGONIZING, real time, real life personal experience.

I hold you as accountable as the actual abuser for encouraging a culture of silent acceptance of sexual assault.

I have so much fury and anger at my would be sisters, who continue to believe that by spouting nonsense about possible innocenct predators they can somehow lean on the patriarchy for table scrap power. That isn’t how power works. You boost your sisters up, you empower them to speak and you create a culture that grants equal power to you, your daughters and every woman- entitled or not.

October 6, 2018

My boyfriend and I are in an open relationship. There are ‘special’ events within 2 hours of us that happen throughout the area. This past summer we were at an event, there was an outdoor pool, clothing optional. Some man decided he could automatically touch me and kiss me. I had to push him away and say ‘no’. 2 other men and 1 lady were by me, they got this guy away from me. This rude guy is no longer invited to the events.

October 20, 2018

Skepticism is my default position. I only believe one thing: Evidence. If there is no evidence to support the claim, I will be the skeptic that screams “Prove It” from the peanut gallery.

If we are going to destroy someone’s life, or take away their freedom and lock them away in a six by six cell for a long time, then the burden or proof and presumption of innocence has to be respected. The #metoo movement spits on the very foundation of that system, and that’s what gets my back up.

Evidence is important, because the system is meant to protect the innocent, not the guilty. I’d rather see five guilty men walk, than one innocent person get locked away for something they never did. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what everyone else has.

As a long time atheist, I don’t anything on blind faith. I’m not going to abandon that position for anything, especially in the absence of evidence.