The part that’s stayed with me from Harry & Meghan, the Netflix docuseries about the couple the world can’t stop talking about, is when Tyler Perry calls the palace and the media’s treatment of them abuse.
That landed for me because I’ve experienced and have enacted abuse. Abuse has impacted my entire life in undeniable and permanent ways.
Also, I’m a big fan of using words properly. A lot of people are either avoidant or too stupid to produce the right vocabulary for what they observe. Most people don’t want to admit when they witness the ugliness we commit to one another. So they pretend to ignore.
Abuse is a word you can’t put back in its bag.
Abuse victims and enablers will do every flip, twist, bend, stretch, and backpedal to avoid the word.
Nobody wants to call a situation abusive. No one wants to call a person an abuser. No one wants to speak truth on a matter because truth demands accountability.
If you say abuse, that means you saw it. You know abuse. You witnessed it. You experienced it. If you admit that you saw, witnessed, or experienced the abuse, then you’re forced to face yourself. Did you take action when you witnessed it? Did you do anything to stop it? Did you fight back? Did you defend the victim? Did you turn away?
Admitting to the knowledge of abuse forces us to admit to our knowledge of self.
Are we the type of people who care about other people? Or do we only care about our select few, and do we only care about them so long as they don’t get outside of the lines? Do we only care about ours so long as they don’t admit to the ugliness?
Do we only care about perception? Or do we care about the truth?
If we’re acknowledging abuse, we’re acknowledging that someone intentionally, and repeatedly inflicted harm on someone else. We’re acknowledging that someone’s humanity was chipped at – not once, not by accident – but on purpose and repeatedly.
A living, breathing human being was purposely harmed. And we saw it, and we heard it, and we witnessed it. Repeatedly. And it was done intentionally.
And it was abuse.
Call it what it was.
Are we the type of people who will submit to abusers? Are we only as powerful as our base instinct for self-preservation within dangerous systems? Are we conscious, evolved beings who can problem-solve our ways out of dangerous systems? Or would we rather maintain that which harms, because the alternative is daunting and exhausting?
Are we cowards? Are we enablers? Deniers? Who are we showing up as in the world, when we all know what an ugly place it can be?
Are we exempt from the worst of what humans are capable of, so long as we never say what we saw? If we never admit the truth of abuse does that make it go away? If we avoid the accountability which heavy conversations demand, can we truly live peacefully while others struggle and possibly perish?
Are we okay with the peripheral knowledge of others’ agony? Do we believe that everyone suffers anyway, but suffering must be done in silence?
What kind of person do you want to be? Can you call it? Can you call yourself what you are?
Tell me what you think before we both die