I’ve written something like this before, and I’m going to try to say this again, hopefully better this time.
When someone is demanding proof, details, exact examples — or worse, proclaiming, without asking, the impossibility of your very life — you don’t owe it to them to put the spotlight on your most vulnerable places, to reopen your old wounds, and gut yourself just so they can see.
I understand, in reaction to the silencing and denial and absurd faith in a different world, the impulse to blurt out the truth. To uncover the ugliness inflicted on you and hold it up to their eyes. I know that impulse, and I decide to go with it, sometimes. It isn’t wrong or bad to do that. But it is dangerous, and risky.
And this is just to say: you don’t have to.
You don’t have to risk exposing yourself to worse — to being gaslit to your face instead of in generalities.
You don’t have to risk being denied autonomy over your own story and dissolved into fuel for the exact perverse ideas your lived experiences contradict.
You may have plenty of testimony to give. And when you give it, please keep an eye on what it does to you, to cut yourself open again and again, exposing your insides to open air and the opinions of those who will declare that what you’re bleeding isn’t blood.
Please, take care of yourselves. Take time, if you need to, to cool yourself down afterward and to plan how to manage these things beforehand. Consider what kind of bandages work best for your spirit.
If you want them, there are multiple guides out there with tips for how to disclose trauma and abuse, with suggested questions to ask yourself and steps to remember. Like those, I would reiterate: if someone has already proven themselves hostile to you and disinterested in listening, it is okay to distrust them.
And disclosure? Is an act of vulnerability, and vulnerability requires trust.
It is okay not to trust people to listen right. It is okay not to trust people not to violate your further, with reactions only a hair different from “Are you sure you aren’t overreacting (i.e. reacting incorrectly)?” and “Are you sure it was really [blank]?”
You don’t owe it to anyone to risk that. You don’t owe a tour, or a vivisection, or an open house. Lock them out if you want. Build a fence.
You don’t owe your new violators the story of your old ones.