The advertising for General Hospital’s segment on teen violence / teen dating abuse** caught my attention. I decided I would check out this “Must See Week!” since the topic is such an important one, especially after all the media coverage of the Chris Brown / Rhianna abusive incident. Today’s teenagers do need to know about domestic violence issues, and I was hoping that General Hospital would do the topic right.
In my opinion, it is absolutely ridiculous to start this series with a false allegation / false accusation.
I realize that many teens, and for that matter, many adults too, will be afraid to speak up against their attacker. That’s understandable, and in many cases, getting the victim quietly away from the abuse is the primary goal. It can be very dangerous and frightening to stand up against abusers, it can feel threatening to file criminal charges, and while I support and applaud the few that have the courage to do so, it is not in the best interest’s of everyone to go this route. That’s ok – each and every situation should be evaluated on its own – and it is important to first and foremost figure out what is the very best option for that particular trauma survivor.
But if any survivor of violence is going to officially accuse someone, it is critically important that they not lie about who their abuser is.
However, she chose to lie and purposefully blamed the wrong person. Not because she was scared of her attacker, but because she was being vindictive and spiteful towards the man she accused. Her feelings were hurt, because she felt rejected by this man, so she is simply “getting him back” for hurting her feelings.
But did he violently abuse and attack her? No.
Does he deserve being lied about in this way? Absolutely not.
Did she do the right thing by accusing and blaming the wrong person? Not in any way, shape, or form.
Of course, Kristina is protecting her abuser-boyfriend from the obvious wrath of her mobster father, and yes, in that sense, victims of abuse often protect their abusers from potential harm. Many women will go to great lengths to protect their abusive partners, and that dynamic is very common. Many survivors are deeply attached to their perpetrators. They are willing to deny or overlook serious personal harm, and they could be experiencing something called Stockholm Syndrome. This is a complicated topic, and is an important issue to understand when working with survivors.
But to lie and accuse the wrong person? How is that going to help?
That is the kind of insanity that gives all survivors of abuse a bad name.
And what’s even worse, as seen in this situation on General Hospital, is that the man that Kristina blamed for her attack was the first person who tried to help her after she was viciously beaten by the real abuser. He was kind enough to stop for her, he went out of his way to take her to the hospital, he genuinely cared that she was injured and tried to get immediate help for her, and she repaid his kindness by pointing her finger at him in purposeful false accusation. He did a very good thing for her, and yet she turned on him.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.
There are survivors out there, including dissociative trauma survivors, who would rather accuse and blame their helpers instead of having the courage to address the real abusers in their livers.
There are trauma survivors out there who are willing to flat out lie about who hurt them.
There are trauma survivors who will purposefully accuse the wrong person in order to protect another loved one.
This is not okay. It’s not okay at all. It’s not ok for the survivor or for the person they falsely accuse.
If you are a trauma survivor, and you are too scared or too unwilling to address your real perpetrator, then at the very least, have the self-respect and the decency to “plead the fifth” instead of making up something about someone else.
Don’t embarrass yourself by becoming a liar and accusing the wrong person.
Don’t ruin someone else’s life because you are not willing to be honest.
Don’t shame the survivor community and put other survivors at risk of being stigmatized as unreliable witnesses, or too crazy to know the truth, because they are being judged by the example you set.
Survivors who falsely accuse anyone of being an agent in their trauma cause genuine harm to the entire survivor community.
Accusing the wrong person is not going to help your healing. In fact, it will set you back. It may cause additional guilt, shame, and self-hatred, and it will never bring the peace of mind or resolution that comes when someone addresses their issues accurately. In fact, knowingly making false allegations puts the accuser into the category of being an abuser themselves because their lies will bring undeserved harm to another person. So if it hurts you, and it hurts others, where all that hurt could easily be avoided, then why make that choice?
If you are a trauma survivor and you are considering making an official statement against someone else as an abuser, it is important to be completely honest with yourself, and closely evaluate if you are ready to take on such a huge emotional task, especially if you are still mid-treatment.
Before making accusations against anyone, you will need to be far enough along in the treatment of your dissociative disorder to be completely sure of what you are saying. You will need to be aware of any bouts of amnesia, time distortion issues, time confusion issues, lack of internal communication, unresolved or unrecognized transference issues, tendencies to project blame, externalizing responsibility, hidden anger, displaced anger, etc.
If you are early in your treatment years, stay focused on your treatment. Put your healing time, energy, and resources into your healing and your internal system. Wasting time going after “the bad guys” will not help you or your insiders. It will distract you from getting the depth of healing you will need in order to be a strong and accurate witness against those who legitimately abused you.
Hopefully, Kristina on General Hospital will make amends for having falsely accused the wrong person. Hopefully, she will have the courage and the decency to correct the wrongs that she has done. If not, she’s not much different from the guy who beat her up.
** Austin-based Loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH) is acting as an expert advisor on the General Hospital storyline.
Kristina, the 16 year old daughter of mob leader Sonny Corinthos (Emmy-winner Maurice Benard) and District Attorney Alexis Davis (Emmy-winner Nancy Lee Grahn) will experience what teens are experiencing in real life and be confused by the roller coaster relationship.
Loveisrespect, NTDAH is a safe, anonymous resource for teens who seek information about healthy dating relationships. Teens may connect via phone or chat with peer advocates who are trained to respond to their concerns.
The Helpline is a place for teens to go to check out their feelings and to learn the red flags of an unhealthy relationship. Available 24/7, the Helpline also provides resources to parents, teachers and friends of teens.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation