One Side of the Story

We only know one side of the story.

I keep seeing this, hearing it, and every time I do, it tears out a couple of the ragged stitches I rely on to keep myself together. I’m a practiced mender, and usually catch the holes before they get too dangerous, but stuff seeps out around the threads I pull through my flesh as I keep on keepin’ on.

We only know one side of the story is something we hear for very specific events. When someone stole my bicycle, no one needed to know the thief’s story. Mine was sufficient. When my daughter experienced street harassment, someone assumed she was dressed immodestly. The other side of the story – men policing my child over her choice to exist in public.

A few weeks ago, a man who is well-known and revered for his art was publicly celebrated with a prestigious award. His son and ex-partner spoke out against him for sexual violence he committed against his daughter when she was only seven years old.

We only know one side of the story, crowds yelled from all corners of the online world. We don’t know if this is true.

Let me tell you what is true.

It is true that there is nothing to gain from being seen as a child who has been sexually abused.

It is true that the court system is itself an assault on someone who has already experienced violence.

It is true that the assumption of innocence of a perpetrator takes priority over the lived experience of the victim.

It is true that people believe that children and women are liars.

We only know one side of the story.

The words echo in my head, make me doubt my own narratives of violence.

Did I overreact? Was it simply a miscommunication? Was I unclear? Could I have stopped it, somehow?

I blame myself when I hear those words. Beyond all reason, I hear them and think my story means less than some interpretation of objectivity that can’t possibly exist.

My stitches start to pull apart as that doubt grows; I can’t hold the pain inside my too-small bag of skin.

We only know one side of the story.

And our side doesn’t matter.


1 Comment

  1. February 3, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    […] a victim’s accusations of rape is not a sign that our society is so very, very fucked up. Tell yourself that it’s rational and logical to want to know all sides of the story, though you never want to know the other side, the perpetrator’s side, when your house is […]

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