I’d like to preface this by saying that I have a lot of privilege. I am a queer black man, but I still have a lot of privilege.

This privilege allows me to speak on certain issues from a detached, outside perspective. When I do this I usually don’t have anything useful to add, so I stay in my lane.

When it comes to abuse and assault, I almost always stay in my lane, opting to amplify the voices of victims instead.

There are times, however, when I believe I have something valuable to add to this conversation. So allow me to merge into this lane for a few minutes.

(Or don’t. You don’t have to read this.)

There was a time when I didn’t believe victims.

I asked for proof. I asked for solid evidence of the abuse. If that was presented I dropped the subject altogether. It was irrelevant to me then. I wrote it off as a singular event.

I claimed to be a believer in the justice system. I claimed to believe in “innocent until proven guilty”. Curiously that only came to when women were being abused or assaulted.

I am not that person anymore. I automatically believe a victim’s allegations.

There are statistical reasons for that, but that’s not why I believe. At least not entirely.

I believe the victims because I now realize why I didn’t believe them.

I didn’t believe in the justice system. I didn’t believe in “innocent until proven guilty.” Hell, I was willing to yell “George Zimmerman is a racist” from every rooftop.

I didn’t believe the victims because I didn’t respect them. I didn’t want to believe that there was a problem with men abusing and assaulting women. I didn’t want to believe that I was a part of that problem.

Anybody who actively tears down someone who come forward about an alleged abuse or assault is trying to silence the victim. It’s never about the justice system. It’s never about anything but reinforcing the belief that we don’t have a problem.

Because if we have a problem, then I have a problem. And that’s scary.

But not scarier than being abused or assaulted.

That’s why I believe the victims. That’s why I refuse to invalidate anyone who come forward.

If you need me, I’ll be back in my lane.