Charisma Carpenter Offers 17 Tips About Helping Survivors of Abuse in an 'Effort to Foster Change'
Charisma Carpenter has written an "open letter" in an "effort to foster change" when it comes to learning how to be an ally to victims of abuse.
The actress — who alleged last month that Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon "abused his power on numerous occasions while working together" on the series and its spinoff, Angel — published her letter with The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, saying she was inspired to do so "to help educate anyone reading this on how to be an ally and support a person who has survived trauma in its many incarnations."
"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," writes Carpenter, 50.
"While I am not a licensed therapist, I've gone through two decades of therapy for my PTSD and, in a genuine desire to overcome my pain, I've learned so much," she adds. "I hope these suggestions will not only provide more empathy for victims of abuse but create an evolved, empathetic society that will encourage the next person to come forward."
"And the next one. And the next one — until there's no longer a need for anyone to have to come forward at all," Carpenter says.
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Buffy and Angel's David Boreanaz Supports Charisma Carpenter After Claims Against Joss Whedon
The 17 tips that follow include advice on respecting boundaries about what survivors are comfortable sharing, and believing victims "the first time." She also calls for understanding that telling survivors to "just move on" isn't helpful, for people to not put expectations on victims in terms of timing in coming out with their stories, and to not make "a survivor responsible for how their trauma makes you feel."
"When an abuser is identified, keep the focus on the culprit instead of diverting the conversation to the abuses of others," Carpenter advises. "Comparisons and 'whataboutism' are tactics used to obfuscate the process of holding a specific person accountable and bringing them to justice."
"Hire people who have spoken out," she says in another tip. "Nothing is more isolating and scary than having your ability to feed your family taken away. 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."
In a lengthy, emotional statement posted on social media last month, Carpenter accused Whedon, 56, of abusing his power during their time working together on the supernatural series, including making repeated threats to fire her and efforts to "alienate" her from her peers, as well as placing added work stress on her while she was pregnant — leaving her with what she called a "chronic physical condition" triggered by the trauma.
"For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and made excuses for certain events that traumatize me to this day," the actress began. "Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. 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 went on to claim that Whedon would regularly issue "passive-aggressive threats to fire" her and would make public, disparaging comments about her weight in front of fellow coworkers.
"He was mean and biting, disparaging about other openly, and often played favorites, pitting people against one another to compete and vie for his attention and approval," she alleged.
Reps for Whedon have continued to decline to comment on Carpenter's allegations when reached by PEOPLE.
Ray Fisher Says He's "Forever Grateful" to Charisma Carpenter for Speaking Out Against Joss Whedon
Carpenter — who starred as Cordelia Chase from Buffy's launch in 1997 and later joined the David Boreanaz-fronted spinoff, Angel, through 2003 — has been supported by numerous of her former Buffy costars, including Boreanaz, 51, Amber Benson and Eliza Dushku.
Other actors who have spoken out amid Carpenter's allegations include Ray Fisher and her Buffy costars Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michelle Trachtenberg, Anthony Stewart Head and James Marsters.
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