The Women Who Enable Abusive Men

The Women Who Enable Abusive Men October 6, 2018

Senator Susan Collins announced today that she will vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation (image obtained via Creative Commons)

After the Kavanaugh hearing last Thursday, an image went viral that depicted a row of women sitting behind him, all with disgusted expressions. It seemed like a direct expression of how most women felt while they listened to the rantings of an entitled, partisan brat. As it turns out, most of those women were actually there to support him. Those looks of anger and contempt were most likely directed toward his accusers.

Are those women accomplices who know for a fact that Kavanaugh is lying about his high school behavior, or are they willfully ignorant? Or perhaps they’re victims of his gas lighting. Either way, they’re not alone in defending abusive men. Social media has exploded with memes warning women to protect their men from sexual assault allegations. The truth is, men are far more likely to be victims of sexual assault (1 out of 10 men will be a victim of sexual assault) than to face false allegations.

Yet those memes, like the women behind Kavanaugh, don’t surprise me in the least. And it doesn’t surprise me that Senator Susan Collins is willing to fall in line and do whatever the party tells her to, after a sham of an FBI investigation that refused to even listen to new information when additional witnesses came forward. Senator Collins has enraged so many voters that there’s a crowdfunding page ready to donate more than $2.5 million to her future opponent in 2020 if she votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

Why am I not surprised? Like most survivors of abuse, I can give you a list of the women who enabled and shielded my abuser: his mother is at the top of the list, followed closely by his older sister. Both knew his history of abuse with previous victims, were not themselves victims of his abuse, and yet accused me of lying when I came forward with similar claims. Both told me I would go to Hell for my lies. Another of his older sisters publicly rebukes me for no longer being in contact with this man.

Nice people.

I’ve heard similar stories from other women:

The (Mormon) mother who accused her daughter of lying when she told her about her brother’s sexual abuse.

Who eventually admitted it had happened but still shielded him from any real consequences so the family could save face at church – her brother continued blessing the Sacrament.

The wife who learned her husband had assaulted her daughters (his step-daughters) and accused her daughters of seducing him.

The sister who protected her brother after he assaulted her two sons.

If I sound angry, it’s because I’m furious. Furious with a system that protects abusers at the expense of fresh victims. I’m not not talking to the women who genuinely don’t know, or the women who themselves were victims of the same abuser and lacked the ability to protect themselves, never mind another person. It’s the women who know for a fact and actively enable these men to target new victims. No matter how much they might tell themselves he’s changed, that he won’t do it again, these women have blood on their hands.

We’ve talked about the male accomplices and enablers, and that conversation needs to continue. But for female accomplices, I have a message:

You’re right. We are coming for your brother, your husband, your father, your son. If he has assaulted or harassed anyone, he’d better not run for public office. Or take a job as a teacher. Or try to hold a leadership position in his local church. He’d better not show up at the family Christmas party dressed as Santa and expect uninformed parents to put their children on his lap.

If he dares, his survivors will strip his good name and hold it under a black light. We will reveal the ugliness beneath his public image.

And if you stand in our way, we will go through you.

Time’s. Up.

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