When a man is accused of sexual abuse crimes and rape it always seems that once one woman has made an accusation others come forward with similar tales of abuse. It has happened in high profile cases, the Jimmy Saville and Bill Cosby type cases, time and time again and it is always met with the same criticism. The same accusations. They are "jumping on the bandwagon". If it had really happened they've have come forward sooner. They'd have spoken out. They're just trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame and a financial handout. They want attention. They want to make trouble for the innocent man.
I have never gone to the police about the abusive relationships or experiences I've had.
I have a lot of guilt for that and I carry it with me. I cling onto the notion that it was just me. Nobody else went through that under those hands and I would rather not put myself through the horrendous process of reporting abuse crimes for which I have no evidence, which I would be put under an embarrassing and traumatic investigation and cross examination, where it would end up as his word against mine. Where I would have to face those men again, men with eyes I have done everything I can to never have to look into again.
I am simply not strong enough to face that lonely road.
If others went forwards? Then I think would.
I'm witnessing it happening. One woman speaks out, comes forward with a tale of abuse and suddenly, like dominoes, other silenced women are holding up their hands. They've suffered the same experiences, they too believed they were alone. They too thought they were facing the prospect of that lonely road. But they're not. There are women with them, women who can hold their hands and look into their eyes and tell them they are not wrong. They aren't making it up, they aren't faking it, they aren't lying and seeking fame and fortune at the expense of an innocent maligned man. Women who can stand together because they have each other and that gives them the strength they need to look into those eyes once more.
If other women came forward I too would stand up. I would face those eyes, those hands. But so far it hasn't happened.
If I'm honest, if I look into those hidden places in my mind that I dare not explore too often, I don't believe I'm alone. And I believe that if I did it, if I was that brave woman who stood up and said it had happened then I'd be leading that march down that road and I wouldn't be alone in doing it.
The women who stand up and make it known are the bravest of us all. Braver than me. If I stood up I am almost certain others would follow yet I am paralysed by fear. I have seen the condemnation, the scrutiny, the abuse these brave women are met with and I am too frightened to face it myself. His word against mine, and I know how many voices will shout from his side about how abused he is by my speaking out. And I am afraid. Those women who face that, who lead the way, they are the bravest of us all.
There is strength in numbers. It is not a bandwagon. It is a march of solidarity.
You can check out all my contact info and links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There's also www.sirenstories.co.uk where you'll find other work from Siren Stories and extra information. My first novel, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, is out now and available on Amazon.