I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the survivor community recently, and finally decided to say something about it after a recent post on Facebook this past weekend. The trend is of spreading “news” from clearly fake news websites in order to spread awareness about child abuse. In this case, I’m sure many of you saw, and probably some of you shared, a news story that claimed that Justin Bieber had come clean about how pedophiles run the music industry and that’s why he had quit his tour, etc. The only problem is, none of that is true. The “story” is entirely made up, in an effort to give credence to a conspiracy theory about the music and entertainment industry that has spread like wildfire around the survivor community.
Now, before I even get started, are there people in important positions who have sexually assaulted children? Probably. Are there ritual child abuse groups out there, yes I’m sure there are. If there is factual information about them, it should come to light and be exposed, if at all possible. Does spreading this particular news story help do that? No, in fact, it does the exact opposite.
Over the weekend, an organization that I have a lot of respect for shared this story on Facebook. When they realized the mistake, they also posted that they were leaving the post up because they wanted people who had gone through ritual abuse to know that they are believed.
Excuse me, what?
You are “supporting” survivors of ritual abuse by spreading a false story and giving ammunition to the people out there who want to claim that ritual abuse doesn’t exist and it’s all made up. That’s not helping. Is that the claim? I don’t buy it.
And it’s not just this group. I’ve seen plenty of advocates sharing outlandish articles from highly questionable websites with the caveat that they have no idea if the story is true, but these things happen so they could believe it. How about stopping for a minute to try and find out whether it’s true before spreading it around?
Look, child abuse happens, it happens much more widely than most people believe it happens. That is an absolute truth. We don’t need to rely on lies to make that point. In fact, we should be the first and strongest voices AGAINST anyone who lies about child abuse, because those lies hurt all of us. They sow the seeds of doubt about true abuse victims, by undermining the very truth we are trying to expose. When we claim to speak for real victims, real survivors, real people dealing with mental health issues, etc. it is imperative that we stick to real stories. Every fake story, every false accusation, every completely ludicrous website out there trying to generate traffic by making up conspiracy theories tied to current events, is a weapon that can be used by those who dismiss child abuse and mental health concerns. By spreading them ourselves we do a disservice to the community, and a disservice to every single survivor who has to fight to be believed.
Be careful with what you share, and if you inadvertently share something without doing the proper due diligence, come clean about it, and denounce the source of it. That’s how you keep the moral high ground, not by being just another source of fake news.