Reaction to the Russell Brand documentary has been harrowing – but unsurprising

It’s a feeling that survivors of abuse know all too well. 

A complex mixture of relief and fear that comes whenever an alleged perpetrator is named in public. 

Yesterday it was reported that Russell Brand has been accused of rape, sexual assault and abuse by four unnamed women.

While I was relieved that accusations against an alleged predator were finally being taken seriously and platformed in broad daylight, I feared the inevitable backlash. 

I feared that among the many who would listen to these women’s testimonies and believe them, there would be a large percentage who would rip their stories apart. 

And I feared the impact this would have, not only on these women’s mental health and wellbeing, but on everyday survivors. 

Regardless of how different a survivor’s own personal trauma is from these women’s allegations, hearing these accounts will be triggering for anyone who has been abused. 

And the public discourse will be exhausting.  

When women come forward about alleged sexual abuse against a powerful man, the public response is disappointingly predictable. 

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a webbrowser thatsupports HTML5video

There will be victim-blaming, victim-shaming, slut-shaming, double-standards, cognitive dissonance, rank misogyny, hero-worship and accusations of conspiratorial attacks. 

We have already seen it all. And the latter was spearheaded by Brand, when he released a video statement saying he believed himself to be the subject of a ‘co-ordinated attack’ by two media outlets, namely Channel 4 and The Times who worked on the investigation together. 

‘Is there another agenda at play?’, he questioned, planting a seed in the brains of those who are already conspiratorially-minded. The women’s testimony is immediately diminished and dismissed as part of a ‘bigger plan’ to take down the powerful man at the centre of the scandal. 

One X user wrote, ‘It was only a matter of time before the matrix came for Russell Brand, can’t be saying all these anti government stuff without consequences’. 

This seemed to come without the author stopping to think about the fact that Brand made a career from disseminating misogynistic and sexually graphic material without consequence, until now. 

GB News presenter Bev Turner was quick to tweet that Brand was being ‘attacked’, then went as far as calling him a ‘hero’ after offering him an open invite to appear on her show. A hero? For being accused of rape? And people still wonder why it takes so long to come forward?

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a webbrowser thatsupports HTML5video

As any victim of a crime knows – whether that’s sexual violence, robbery or grievous bodily harm – there is no rulebook on how to respond. 

And in the case of sexual assault, some victims report immediately, some take years, some not at all. 

The fact that someone has taken time to disclose is not a reflection of the validity of their story, but a reflection of the nuance, emotional and physical pain of sexual trauma. 

There should also be no criticism of women who choose to remain anonymous either. 

There is always an implicit – and often an explicit – commendation of victims who waive their right anonymity and choose to go on camera. Call me cynical, but as someone who works in the media, I know that this is largely because it makes a documentary or newspaper article more visually compelling and easier to sell. 

Victims who show their faces are often praised as the bravest, which implies that choosing to stay anonymous somehow lacks courage – it doesn’t. 

Commissioners and editors need to be more courageous in green-lighting investigative pieces that don’t depend on a crying victim to tell and sell the story. 

Unfortunately I’ve seen countless ‘hot takes’ on social media from people saying they’d show their faces if their accusations were genuine. It just shows how little people know about sexual assault and the impact it has on the lives of those affected. 

Another example of this is the number of posts I’ve seen from people victim-blaming these women. 

One female X user wrote, ‘If my ex asked me to go round for “a cuddle” I wouldn’t go. If I did go, I’d have to take some responsibility for what happened’.

There is so much happening in these two sentences alone. The writer distances herself from the event, as if sexual assault could never happen to her because she has made the right choices and the victim in this scenario has not. 

More from Platform

Platform is the home of’s first-person and opinion pieces, devoted to giving a platform to underheard and underrepresented voices in the media.

Find some of our best reads of the week below:

Linda Aitchison was terrified when her doctor suspected cancer following some worrying symptoms. The writer was filled with relief when it transpired to be her long-forgotten 15-year-old coil.’s Alicia Adejobi slammed Kanye West and shared how she felt humiliation and sadness for his ‘wife’ Bianca Censori after seeing her outfits in Italy.

An anonymous writer explains how, after never having the best relationship with his father, he gave his dad a second chance by allowing him to be an active grandparent. Something his father has taken for granted.

And Shane Harding retells the story of how she met her soulmate Mert on holiday in Turkey. Mert travelled 300 miles and spent £400 on a taxi just to make their first date.

She also suggests that victims of rape and assault are partially responsible for what happened to them if they consent to other forms of physical touch from an abuser – which is patently untrue. 

The only person responsible for rape, is a rapist. 

At the centre of this story are four women who I wish we didn’t have to call brave for coming forward with their allegations. The fact that society requires women to show bravery and courage in order to report abuse means that society’s systems are failing. 

If society provided the right emotional, legal, financial, medical and institutional support, then we wouldn’t depend so heavily on a survivor’s bravery to get justice. 

I hope that all survivors and those whose lives have been impacted by sexual assault are able to feel supported and looked after over what could be a very triggering and traumatic week of insufferable commentary.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Share your views in the comments below.

Source: Read Full Article