Charisma Carpenter has reflected on her decision to go public with her allegations of abuse against Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, describing it as an “effort to foster change”.
Last month, Carpenter came forward in a social media post with a flurry of explosive accusations against Joss Whedon. Among them, claims of “repeated” abuse, a “toxic” workplace environment and being “unceremoniously fired” after giving birth.
Since sharing her accounts, countless Buffy stars have sought to support Carpenter – including Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Boreanaz, Michelle Trachtenberg and Anthony Head – whether issuing warming statements of solidarity, coming forward with their own claims or simply distancing themselves from Joss Whedon altogether
In a column for The Hollywood Reporter, Carpenter opened up about her decision to post her open letter detailing the allegations as well as give tips for how to better support victims of abuse.
Charisma Carpenter: ‘ I endured psychological abuse while acting on Buffy‘
“I shared my experiences about my former boss, Joss Whedon, so that we may identify a very real problem that is still happening 20 years later,” the 50-year-old said.
“My open letter is not just trauma unpacking or dumping. It’s a wake-up call. And a call to action. It was written in a concerted effort to foster change.”
Carpenter added that since uploading the letter to her social media, she has been “overwhelmed by phone calls, emails, public comments and DMs of support” in response to her allegations about Joss Whedon, as well as people confiding their own experiences of abuse to her.
“I’m regrettably all too familiar with experiencing physical and mental abuse,” she explained.
“I was terrorised at the hands of an abusive family member when I was a child. And I’ve had a gun held to my head at point-blank range while barely escaping rape.
“And based on the open letter I wrote, you now know about the psychological abuse I endured while acting on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.”
The actor admitted she’s no “licensed therapist” as she recalled the two decades of therapy she has undergone for her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): “In a genuine desire to overcome my pain, I’ve learned so much.”
But in the avalanche of well-intentioned support, Carpenter came to realise that not everyone knows how to be an ally to a victim of abuse. So she offered suggestions for people to “provide more empathy” and “create an evolved, empathetic society that will encourage the next person to come forward”.
She hopes to encourage others to speak out “until there’s no longer a need for anyone to have to come forward at all”.
Telling victims of abuse to “get over it”, Carpenter said, “is dismissive and devoid of empathy”.
Moreover, she urged people not to press victims beyond their limits for details of their trauma and to never “play devil’s advocate for an abuser, make excuses for them or imply that victims have somehow misunderstood their trauma”.
She added: “Believe people when they say, ‘This happened to me.’ Believe it the first time.”
Joss Whedon has not publicly commented on Carpenter’s allegations and has not responded to multiple requests for comment.