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Mandy Moore Had Every Right To Refuse To Share Her Trauma

Mandy Moore, who plays Rebecca Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” spoke out recently because she was approached to do a comprehensive piece about her life and career for an undisclosed large publication. However, the offer was ultimately rescinded because she declined to speak about the abuse she endured and the end of her marriage a few years prior, stating that she had already spoken extensively about her ordeal and had nothing more to say.

Thoroughly disgusted with the “pause” put on her interview, she shared not only the original email from the journalist, but her response, as well, which in part read:

“The refusal to interview someone unless they agree to relive that trauma publicly? No thank you. I am about to give birth any second and I’m not afraid to draw healthy boundaries. Bye.”

 

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It is fully within her right to refuse to speak further about her abuse. Those are her experiences, her trauma. Celebrity or not, she does not owe anyone opening up her old wounds for anyone else’s entertainment. If she chooses to speak out, whether to raise awareness or for her own healing, that is absolutely fine, too.  But either way, it is her choice and hers alone whether or not to rehash old traumas. 

As an abuse survivor myself, I often write about my own traumatic experiences in the hope that it may help others. However, revisiting that trauma always comes at a price for me. Every time I reopen that door, it is like ripping the scab off an old wound. There are times I just do not have the mental fortitude or emotional strength to invite those demons in for a visit. And there are just as many times that I do choose to reopen those wounds and talk about my experiences, only to find myself struggling for days afterward with old emotions brought back to the surface anew. Either way, any time my abuse and trauma is discussed, it is on my terms and my schedule. 

It is a pattern that keeps happening in the media, akin to Brittany Spears being pushed years ago to discuss her breakup with Justin Timberlake, or Lindsay Lohan being pushed by David Letterman to discuss her time in rehab. People are prompted to talk about abuse, trauma, rape, loss, addiction, heartbreak, illness and injury, without any regard for whether or not they are comfortable speaking about the topic at hand. For decades, it has been considered “good journalism” to dig deep and uncover the dirty details. Trauma, abuse and tragedy sell, and far too many people are looking to cash in on the misfortune of others. 

But enough is enough. 

We, as a society, need to stop treating the struggles of others as entertainment. We need to stop acting as if someone owes us a rehashing of the hardest points of their life just because we watched their movie, listened to their songs or read their book. That trauma is not public property. We need to show compassion, not push to retraumatize those who have already suffered. It is one thing to report on details someone has previously willingly shared. It is another thing to expect someone to relive the worst periods of their lives in order to advance your career, sell more magazines or receive more clicks.

If someone chooses to discuss the hardest periods in their life, that is their prerogative — and so is choosing not to talk about it. Speaking about it in the past does not mean they automatically must continue to speak about it on cue, either. Any abuse survivor has the right to choose to discuss their experiences, or to refuse to do so at any point. We are not performing circus animals on display to entertain the masses. Our past trauma and abuse does not define us, nor are we ever obligated to divulge or relive our trauma for the entertainment of others. While there is empowerment in speaking out, there is also a great benefit in moving beyond trauma and attempting to heal. Nobody owes anyone else their story, not even a celebrity or someone else in the public eye.

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