While many assume it's more a matter of "when" than "if" Joss Whedon will address Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Charisma Carpenter's public accusations of abuse and unprofessional behavior during their time together work on both series, Carpenter is going public once again- this time, to offer advice on how to be either an ally or a better ally to those who've come forward to reveal past trauma. In Carpenter's guest column (which you can read in its entirety here) for THR, the actor explains her reason for coming forward and how she hoped it could lead to meaningful change. "I shared my experiences about my former boss, Joss Whedon, so that we may identify a very real problem that is still happening 20 years later. 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," Carpenter wrote.
But though going public with the "psychological abuse I endured while acting on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Angel'" made it easier for others to open about their own abuse, Carpenter also noticed that many who were looking to be supportive weren't exactly sure how to be supportive in a way that makes those who've come forward feel supported and protected. To that end, Carpenter offers a list of suggestions to keep in mind when looking to be supportive of a victim of abuse, writing that her goal is to "help educate anyone reading this on how to be an ally and support a person who has survived trauma in its many incarnations." Here's a look at some examples of the over a dozen suggestions Carpenter offers:
"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. 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."
"Don't play devil's advocate for an abuser, make excuses for them or imply that victims have somehow misunderstood their trauma. If they are speaking about it publicly, they have likely done hard work in regards to their trauma and gotten help to process their experience clearly."
"Don't blame people for staying in abusive situations. Blame the abuser or institutions still in place for making it difficult or impossible to leave. The underlying message is that the victim "asked for it" or that it's their fault they were abused. It's not. It's the abuser's fault."
"Rationalizing power abuse, misogyny, racism or sexism to a survivor by explaining, "It was a different time then," is unacceptable. These things were never okay. If we minimize these past behaviors, we're bound to keep doing them in the future."
After living with the experience for "nearly two decades" before speaking up, Carpenter alleged in social media posts last month that, "Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working on the sets of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Angel.' While he found his conduct 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. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively." You can read Carpenter's entire statement below, where the actress goes on to offer examples of her allegations as well as revealing that she took part in WarnerMedia's investigation into Justice League star Ray Fisher's claims against Whedon.
Here's a look at the Buffy and Angel star's original tweets:
On July 1, 2020, Fisher aka Cyborg took to Twitter to accuse Whedon of being abusive on the 2017 set not long after Whedon took over from Zack Snyder (who left the production due to a family tragedy), and that two other executives helped enable Whedon's alleged actions. WarnerMedia opened an investigation into Fisher's allegations, but in early September the company claimed that Fished wasn't cooperating with third-party investigators Fisher denied those claims, while friends co-stars such as Jason Mamoa began publically supporting Fisher and demanding WarnerMedia take action.
Then on November 24, word came down from Whedon that he was stepping away from his upcoming HBO series The Nevers. Whedon cited "the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic" as being a major factor in his decision. HBO confirmed in a brief statement that it had parted ways with the show's creator, writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner. "We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere," wrote the cable network in a statement.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers), Amber Benson (Tara Maclay), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Anthony Head (Rupert Giles), Eliza Dushku (Faith), James Marsters (Spike), J. August Richards (Charles Gunn), David Boreanaz (Angel), Amy Acker (Fred), and Nicholas Brendon (Xander) as well as writers Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) and Jose Molina (Firefly), have taken to social media to offer Carpenter support.