Judith Herman Quote
As Judith Herman warned back in 1992, “It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary asks the bystander to share the burden of pain.”
I think this such a compassionate way to understand why we as individuals and in our society struggle to believe victims and hold abusers accountable, because to do so means we need to share the burden of pain.
If I am not willing or able to see another’s pain, it makes it easier to stick with the status quo, to not act.
It can be scary to act, so speak up, to speak truth to power.
And I will say that some of us have a harder time with that than others. As a privileged, cisgender white woman, I can say I was not raised to speak up. It’s not polite, it’s not nice, and who am I to have an opinion.
So, I feel that pull to speak no evil. But given my own pain from my own experiences growing up, I absolutely hear and see evil, and it causes me pain, which fuels my need to speak up.
I do believe we can build a better world, and that is why I feel it is so important to foster and strengthen compassion and empathy. Those are the tools that allow us to feel others pain, which in turn helps motivate us to do something about it.