Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Charisma Carpenter has urged people to change the way they speak to victims of abuse in light of her recent allegations against the show's creator Joss Whedon.
As part of a new column for The Hollywood Reporter, the actor – who played Cordelia Chase in Buffy and its spin-off Angel – revealed that she has been inundated with messages since alleging last month that Whedon created a "hostile and toxic" environment and she was mistreated on the sets of both shows.
She noted, however, that several of the most well-intentioned reactions "still fell short", and that it made her realise that "many may not know how to be an ally or to best support a survivor of trauma".
Carpenter then opened up about harrowing events from her past, including an abusive family member and someone holding her at gunpoint. She also explained that she spoke about her experiences publicly in the hope of identifying "a very real problem that is still happening 20 years later".
She continued: "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.
"While I am not a licensed therapist, I've gone through two decades of therapy for my PTSD and, in a genuine desire to overcome my pain, I've learned so much.
"I hope these suggestions will not only provide more empathy for victims of abuse but create an evolved, empathetic society that will encourage the next person to come forward. And the next one. And the next one – until there's no longer a need for anyone to have to come forward at all."
Carpenter went on to list things that anyone responding to those who have suffered mistreatment should and shouldn't do, such as not telling those speaking out to "rise above" or "just move on" as it's "dismissive and devoid of empathy".
She also insisted that people should not ask for more details than have already been divulged, they should not "play devil's advocate" when it comes to the accused, and everyone should "believe people when they say, 'This happened to me'".
Carpenter dismissed the idea of 'cancel culture' and pointed out that that is different from someone being held accountable for any wrongdoings, and that "sexist jokes, job-security threats and microaggressions can no longer be accepted as 'part of the game' to get ahead".
Finally, she urged news publications to refrain from using terms like "sexual misconduct" when describing behaviours that are "predatory and criminal", and that bosses hire those who have come forward because it can be an isolating experience.
You can read the complete column here.
Whedon has yet to respond to the accusations. Digital Spy reached out to his representatives for comment.
We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov.
Digital Spy's digital magazine is back! Read all issues now with a 1-month free trial, only on Apple News+.
Interested in Digital Spy's weekly newsletter? Sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox – and don't forget to join our Watch This Facebook Group for daily TV recommendations and discussions with other readers.
You Might Also Like