On Domestic Abuse, Lindsay Lohan, and the “Perfect Victim/Survivor” Myth

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Lindsay Lohan recently accused her former fiancé, Egor Tarabasov, of domestic abuse. About a week or so ago, a violent fight between Lohan and Tarabasov got captured on camera, with the footage making the rounds on social networks and such. Despite the existence of this video, it seems that many news networks and larger media bodies have been reluctant to cover the story.

This is just the latest in a series of events between Lohan and Tarabasov. Back in July, The Sun picked up a story about police responding to an incident at Lohan’s London apartment. According to a neighbor’s cell phone video, Lohan came running out onto her balcony, shouting, “Please, please, please. He just strangled me. He almost killed me. Everybody will know. Get out of my house.”

It’s beginning to feel like no matter what happens to her, the media can’t (or won’t) notice. But why is that?

Back in February, Carolyn wrote at length about the “perfect victim/survivor” myth, and how so often this myth gets in the way of the public’s ability to discuss stories about abuse and bring them to light. In short, this myth of a “perfect victim” prevents sexual and domestic abuse victims from coming forward regarding their experience, because these people who have suffered at the hands of others may not stack up against what society or the public at large consider to be a victim. These myths and beliefs in how someone should act before and after the fact effectively silences entire swaths of people.

You may remember that last year, Kesha filed a lawsuit against her producer, Dr. Luke, accusing him of sexually assaulting her. She was held to this same unbelievable standard, this same myth that Lohan now finds herself held up against. Amber Heard, who accused Johnny Depp of domestic abuse, was in a similar situation as she had to prove her case against the public’s image of Depp, who is, simply put, a media darling. On top of that, in the coverage of the events and those that followed, biphobia ran rampant, as some outlets painted Heard as a target due to her bisexuality.

Lohan is no longer engaged to Tarabasov. Kesha continues to produce music and has launched a new tour. Heard’s battle against Depp continues, and looks to be getting more bizarre. But each of these women have been able to leave their hostile environments in search of relief and hope, which is something that not a lot of women (celebrity or not) get to do.

There is a very real, very terrifying problem in the way we approach accusations of domestic abuse in all aspects of our lives. This refusal to believe women when they say they’re being abused prolongs cycles of violence between partners. The way things are now, there’s no incentive, there’s no relief to be had by accusing your abuser, there’s only the uphill, damn-near-Sisyphean battle of trying to prove it afterwards.

This has to change, and it has to change now. Believe women when they say they’ve been assaulted. Don’t write them off or perform some mental gymnastics to try to find out how it was their fault. The option of seeking help should never, ever be considered more dangerous than staying in such a perilous position. By talking about these issues and making safe spaces, we can change the conversation to one that promotes healing and positivity, not doubt and discord. Things can be better, and it’s up to us to help make that change happen.

(via The Frisky)

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.