If you are a victim of assault you will automatically find yourself in an adversarial position. I talk about this a lot because it is prevalent in the church. But so many people find it hard to believe so they don’t. How can such a nice person do such a thing? How can such a thing happen right under our noses?
My daughter was bullied in University, but because she was assaulted by two popular young woman in such an aggressive way it was hard to get anyone’s ear that would even entertain the possibility that such an insane thing could happen. Finally an officer, female, took Casile’s report of bullying so seriously that she did something about it and the harassment ceased immediately.
Joseph Mengele, the German SS officer and physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, was quoted as saying to the Jewish prisoners,
“The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it.”
Žižek, in Less Than Nothing, asks if it is impossible to do a documentary on the Holocaust because you can’t reduce such horror to a factual account. He also asks if it is impossible to write a novel about the Holocaust because you can’t fictionalize such horrible facts. But perhaps only fiction can report the atrocity while at the same time buffering its horrific reality with story.
So Žižek suggests that,
“At this level, truth is no longer something that depends on the faithful reproduction of facts. One should introduce here the difference between (factual) truth and truthfulness: what makes a report of a raped woman (or any other narrative of a trauma) truthful is its very factual unreliability, confusion, inconsistency. If the victim were able to report on her painful and humiliating experience in a clear way, with all the data arranged into a consistent order of exposition, this very quality would make us suspicious. The same holds true for the unreliability of the verbal reports given by Holocaust survivors: a witness who was able to offer a clear narrative of his camp experience would thereby disqualify himself.”
What this means is that the intensity of emotion, the flurry of confusing facts, and their shocking unbelievability is perhaps the best representation of what happened, the best reflection, the best witness. It is the traumatic event bleeding over into its traumatic report that should make it truthful.
In the movie This is 40, Pete and Debbie are brought before the principal because Debbie is accused of verbally abusing Catherine’s son. Which she did! Pete and Debbie remain calm while Catherine so completely loses it trying to get some justice for her son that she makes herself completely unbelievable and Pete and Debbie are believed.
I see this happening every day and I hear about it all the time. The stories are just so unbelievable that they aren’t believed. Even writers of small blogs call out abuses, errors, assumptions and biases, but because their claims against popular people are just too unbelievable they are dismissed.
The remedy? Listen. Investigate. Report. And believe that anyone is capable of anything.