In Response to Leaving Neverland


Trauma has many layers -  The Painter’s Rehab

Trauma has many layers - The Painter’s Rehab


Wade Robson and James Safechuck -

First of all I just want to say that I have never done this sort of thing but I was deeply affected by the Leaving Neverland documentary. No one but Michael Jackson and you really know the whole truth and so I can’t speak on the controversy around this film for sure. No one can really.

I can say that the cycle of abuse and what it does to your reality is something only another victim of sexual or physical abuse knows all too well. So for what’s it worth or not, I believe you. I don’t believe that anyone who has not experienced such abuse would understand it or be able to speak on the subtleties of it. This film laid out every single layer of the affects on a person in a beautiful portrait. The gas lighting, the warped sense of reality, enjoying the abuse to some extent (perhaps that’s how we survive?), the lying, the denial, the shame, the losing yourself, the anxiety, depression, despair, and feeling like there is something wrong with you and you can’t name it. My situation and trauma were different growing up but it was similar enough that I felt every single one of those layers that ultimately comes from being gas lighted and abused. It’s so incredibly complicated and our brains do some amazing twists and turns to make sense of it all.

Goodness gracious my whole heart goes out to you both. I understand exactly how this cycle plays out, because aspects of it have played out in my own life. I understand why you were able to defend Michael Jackson in court, why the lies, why you kept going back, why your parents weren’t able to see it, and why why why... It all made perfect sense to me because I do believe from my own experience that when an adult molds a child’s reality, that child grows into an adult that questions their own reality constantly. The consequences of that are that they turn into an adult that does things that don’t make sense to other people. They turn into an adult that hates himself or herself so much they will do anything to experience love even if that means seeking love from their first abuser or another. They turn into an adult who’s true self and reality is buried so deep that they are a shell of a person reacting to life and not participating in it. They turn into an adult that gets trapped in the insanity of their own mind.

I have been told many times in my recovery something along these lines… “You have to forgive yourself for what you did as a child. You were a child and it wasn’t your responsibility to keep yourself safe. You cannot blame yourself for not telling anyone because you were trained not to. You were a child.”

Abusers know what they are doing and they do it well. If someone is so good at deception why is it our fault for not seeing the deception? Furthermore, how is a child supposed to understand the complexity of the situation? The idea that we somehow as children (or even adults) are supposed to see through the deceit and react exactly how a non-traumatized person would is ludicrous to me. And yet, when victims come forward, how they reacted or conducted themselves in response to the trauma is always ridiculed. The whole point of the gas lighting from the abuser is to change our reality and for us to not see the abuse for what it is. Worse than others blaming victims, victims are their own harshest critics and bury themselves in shame. I hope as a society we can do better because shame takes people’s lives.

I have made not so great choices in my life as a reaction to my own trauma. I am a recovering addict and have done many things that I am ashamed about. Things that seemed crazy or didn’t make sense to those around me or myself. I at once came to a place where I was able to forgive myself and take responsibility for my actions because I had to if I was going to live. My life literally depended on it. I share this because I do believe that there comes a point in a trauma survivor’s life when all of the layers have to be removed and exposed because it’s the only way we can live. It’s hard and extremely painful. That’s what I saw when I watched your documentary. A deep and beautiful desire to find yourself and live your truth.

Your story matters, so Thank you for sharing it. It deeply affected and inspired me. Be well.

With Gratitude,

A fellow survivor of sexual abuse