After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened the victim lies, exaggerates, brought it upon herself, and in any case, it’s time to forget the past and move on.
The more powerful the perpetrator.
The greater is his privilege to name and define reality. And the more completely his arguments prevail.
- To escape accountability for his crimes. The perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting.
- Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim.
- If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens.
To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization.
- It’s very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander does 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. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.
- When the victim is already devalued (a woman, a child), she may find that the most traumatic events of her life take place outside the realm of socially validated reality.
Her experience becomes unspeakable.