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Charisma Carpenter 'overwhelmed' by response to her allegations against Joss Whedon, but not all of it was supportive

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read
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Charisma Carpenter is explaining how to be an ally. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for ReedPOP )
Charisma Carpenter is explaining how to be an ally. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for ReedPOP )

Charisma Carpenter has been "overwhelmed" by the responses to the allegations she made against Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel creator Joss Whedon last month. Not all of them were helpful.

"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," Carpenter said in a new column for The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm regrettably all too familiar with experiencing physical and mental abuse. I was terrorized at the hands of an abusive family member when I was a child. And I’ve had a gun held to my head at point blank range while barely escaping rape. And based on the open letter I wrote, you now know about the psychological abuse I endured while acting on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel."

In a statement last month, Carpenter accused Whedon of being psychologically abusive during the making of those series: calling her "fat" in front of others, forcing her to work when her doctor had advised her to take time off and firing her just after she gave birth. "While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my [performance] anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers. The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer," she wrote. Carpenter appeared on Buffy from 1996 to 2002, and Angel from 1999 to 2004.

Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to Whedon for comment. He's previously declined to comment on Carpenter's allegations.

On Thursday, she gave suggestions for the things she wishes people would have said or done. Her first was actually something that you should not do.

"Please don't tell people to 'rise above,' 'just move on, it was a long time ago,' 'get over it' and 'forgive and forget' abusive experiences. This is dismissive and devoid of empathy," she said. "Justice for the abused is an integral part of the healing process. It's hard for a traumatized person to move on when they watch the transgressors move up the ladder and gain power even as they repeat patterns of toxic behavior without answerability."

The
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer cast, including Charisma Carpenter, second from right, photographed in 1997. (Photo: Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty Images)

She urged people to believe accusers, because it takes courage to uncover and discuss their pain, to listen and have empathy.

"Don't ask others to share details of their trauma beyond what they are willing to volunteer," said Carpenter, who's spent 20 years in therapy. "Questioning someone's experience when it is not a part of a formal investigation is insensitive and signals that you, the judge, need more evidence to evaluate what you are being told is truthful. Just listen. Be empathetic. Be a safe person."

At the end of the lengthy list of actions she shared, Carpenter advised people with the power to do so to "hire people who have spoken out."

"Nothing is more isolating and scary than having your ability to feed your family taken away," she said. "This fear holds people hostage to their suffering and supports a broken system. Stop labeling victims of abuse as the ones who are problematic. The abuser is problematic — not the abused."

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