Actress Charisma Carpenter was inundated with phone calls, emails, public comments, and private messages of support in response to her open letter detailing the psychological abuse she allegedly suffered from director Joss Whedon on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Hoping to add her two cents to create an “evolved, empathetic society,” Carpenter (pictured) penned a 17-point guide for “allies” of abuse victims.
In an op-ed for the Hollywood Reporter, Carpenter said while receiving support from so many people, “it dawned on me that many may not know how to be an ally or to best support a survivor of trauma.”
“I’m regrettably all too familiar with experiencing physical and mental abuse,” she wrote. “I was terrorized at the hands of an abusive family member when I was a child. And I’ve had a gun held to my head at point-blank range while barely escaping rape.”
The actress added in sharing her alleged abuse experiences from Whedon, she was seeking to give people a “wake-up call” in a “concerted effort to foster change,” rather than just unpack all her trauma.
“It is my aim to help educate anyone reading this on how to be an ally and support a person who has survived trauma in its many incarnations,” Carpenter continued. “While I am not a licensed therapist, I’ve gone through two decades of therapy for my PTSD and, in a genuine desire to overcome my pain, I’ve learned so much.”
“I hope these suggestions will not only provide more empathy for victims of abuse but create an evolved, empathetic society that will encourage the next person to come forward,” she added.
From there, Carpenter went on to offer 17 guidelines people can follow in order to be better allies of abuse victims, which included to “believe people” when they say something happened to them, and not to “blame people for staying in abusive situations,” among other suggestions
Carpenter’s list includes the following rules:
- Don’t blame people for staying in abusive situations. Blame the abuser or institutions still in place for making it difficult or impossible to leave. The underlying message is that the victim “asked for it” or that it’s their fault they were abused. It’s not. It’s the abuser’s fault.
- Refrain from making comments, especially publicly, that unwittingly undermine the pain of others. Ask yourself: Do I have anything substantive to add to this conversation? Have I experienced trauma from abuse and discrimination? If the answer is no, it is not your turn to be heard.
- Believe people when they say, “This happened to me.” Believe it the first time.
- Seeking accountability and consequences for patterns of workplace abuse aren’t about “cancel culture.” It’s best to reframe it as “consequences culture.”