Almost a month after coming forward with allegations of abuse against her former boss Joss Whedon on the sets of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, Charisma Carpenter has picked up her pen once again. This time, Carpenter has penned a new editorial for The Hollywood Reporter, addressing, not her own treatment, or the ways Whedon allegedly intimidated, belittled, and verbally abused her on the shows’ sets, but the responses she’s received since coming forward with her account. (A move that led to a number of Whedon’s former employees, mostly women, issuing their own notes of support or descriptions of his unwelcome behavior.) Titled “How To Be An Ally Of Victims Of Abuse,” Carpenter’s new column is a forthright, thoughtful, and appealingly blunt breakdown of how to support those who come forward in the aftermath of abuse, foregrounding their feelings and experiences rather than one’s own.
Among other things, Carpenter emphasizes the need for justice in abusive situations, rather than calls to “get over it” or “move on.” “Justice for the abused is an integral part of the healing process,” she writes, noting later on that said justice is not “cancel culture,” but “consequence culture.” She also emphasizes the importance of believing those who come forward with the information that they’re willing and able to share, and not acting in a way that “signals that you, the judge, need more evidence to evaluate what you are being told is truthful.”
Point by point, Carpenter lays out the simple, easy-to-follow principles of ally-hood, from not rationalizing or explaining away abusive behaviors, to hiring those who’ve had the willingness and bravery to speak up on hard topics, to simply knowing when it’s time to keep your mouth shut and let others speak their truths.
The truth is that while the inundation of comments and calls were rooted in good intentions, some still fell short. It dawned on me that many may not know how to be an ally or to best support a survivor of trauma…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.
You can read Carpenter’s full column here. Whedon hasn’t yet commented on any of the recent allegations against him.