Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down: Why I Believe Kesha, and Neither of Us Care if You Don’t Believe Us
I don’t care about celebrity drama in general, but one case hits me close to home. In case you haven’t heard of the legal battle between singer Kesha and music producer Dr. Luke, here is a brief synopsis: Kesha accused Dr. Luke of sexual assault and drugging her, as well as continual emotional abuse and manipulation. She wanted to be released from her contract. In the never-ending court battles between Kesha and Dr. Luke, new papers have been entered that assert Dr. Luke’s career “will never recover from the damage.”
Victims of sexual violence and abuse hear this a lot. In fact, it’s made into a bargaining chip by mutual friends — I mean enablers — who plead with you to “not make a big deal out of it.” Who think that your suffering is a price to pay for everything to “just be okay again.” They criticize you for “starting drama.” They ask you to “just let it go.” They demand that you take the “higher road” and “be the mature one.”
I put all that in quotes because it’s bullshit.
Listen, victims don’t care if you don’t believe us. We’re not seeking your approval. We care only to the extent that your believing us would help our suffering end. We care only to the extent that a lawyer or a cop believes us to pursue justice…and many of us won’t even try, because we know we’re in for endless hours of humiliating, frustrating, and re-traumatizing questioning and trials. Or, we’ll be told that the case can’t be prosecuted.
Do you really think that telling us you don’t believe us, whether overtly or subtly, as in the weasel words above, will change our minds? That we’ll give up our recollection of our experience and twist it into a more acceptable version? Your version?
That’s gaslighting. You’re gaslighting us.
And we’re done with it.
I believe Kesha because she has no reason to lie. No victim does. It’s never worth the irreparable harm to our reputation that happens when we accuse someone of sexual violence. Even when we’re believed, we’re blamed, slut-shamed, or told to “just get over it.” When we’re not believed, we’re called far worse things.
Countless cases of campus sexual assault have ended with slaps on the wrist even when witnesses were present. Every case of fatal domestic violence is met with a litany of remarks from the oh-so-safe peanut gallery: “Why didn’t she leave?”
Are you willing to hang your hat on the off-chance that one of us is lying? We can’t care about your mental gymnastics you do to justify sexual violence. We can’t care about the just world hypothesis.
The world is not just. Horrible shit happens to people. You know this, you do.
I believe Kesha because bad shit happens, even to celebrities. There’s no reason she’s immune, yet people act like she’s more likely to lie because she’s a celebrity. There’s no evidence for that. Anyone might become a victim of sexual violence — and no one gets famous, let alone more famous, because of it.
Accusing someone of sexual violence always puts a scarlet A on you. You will be believed by few, thanked by even fewer. You will have your life critiqued and judged by people who only skim the surface, looking for any evidence that you did something to cause it or deserved. You will be shamed, mocked, and condescended to.
Good thing, then, that we don’t care if you believe us. Our truth is still the same, no matter what you think. It sucks to be shunned and shamed, but it sucks worse to have experienced what we did.
Follow me for more writings on sexual violence, intimate partner abuse, and recovery, and be sure to follow Persephone’s Journey.