So, I have a relative (who I will call ‘R’). when I’ve been with her, R has been very nice, quite gentle, good at listening to other people … in other words, the last person you would expect to commit child abuse (not neglect, abuse).
Yet my own mother has witnessed with her own eyes R physically abusing a child.
My mother says that R understands that what she did was wrong, and my mother thinks that R would never abuse a child now – in other words, the R that abused a child is not the R that I know. Even so, I was still quite shocked by this revelation. Before my mother told me the story, I would have never imagined that R had ever done such a thing.
During the same conversation, my mother said that you can never 100% trust anybody, including herself.
Often, when people come forward talking about how they were abused, other people will defend the abuser by saying that they know the abuser, and they know the abuser would never do such a thing. Well, if R has physically abused a child, then this person who you ‘know’ would never abuse another person … might actually have abused another person.
There are people I know who I am still 99% certain would never abuse another human being. And to be honest, if someone came forward and said they were abused by one of those people, I probably would not believe them, at least not at first. But even if I don’t believe them, the proper response is not to immediately accuse them of being liars.
The proper response is to hear out the person who says they have been abused, and to not claim they are lying unless I have solid evidence that they are in fact lying (‘I know Z, and I know Z would never do what you say Z did to you’ is NOT solid evidence). It’s possible that they are lying, it’s also possible that they have made a mistake … and it’s also possible that they are telling the truth.
No matter how well I know somebody, or how much I trust or care for them, I cannot be 100% certain that they never have and never will abuse somebody.
And you cannot be 100% certain either.