Here is something that I should not have to say and yet apparently must be said: A disclosure that someone is a survivor of sexual violence is not an invitation for others to decide how that experience did (or did not) cause them to change. Nor is it an invitation for others to decide how that experience should (or should not) cause them to change. In short, a disclosure that someone is a survivor of sexual violence is not an invitation for others to audit their experiences for them.
When Richard Dawkins announced this week, speaking of his childhood molester (and inappropriately speculating on behalf of those of his peers who were also abused by the same man), that “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm”, atheist blogger PZ Myers chose to respond by saying this:
I can think of some lasting harm: he seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children.
I know of only two ways to take this statement. One is to read it as a straight-up no-kidding seriously-meant armchair-psychiatrist-diagnosis suggestion that Richard Dawkins is a rape apologist as a direct result of being molested as a child. The other is to read this as a grossly unfunny "joke" where the punchline is that Richard Dawkins is a rape apologist as a direct result of being molested as a child.
I neither know nor care whether PZ Myers meant the statement in seriousness or in jest. The suggestion, whether serious or satirical, that Richard Dawkins is engaging in rape apologism not because lots of people engage in rape apologism in order to entrench their own social privilege nor because lots of people engage in rape apologism because they were indoctrinated into rape culture from an early age nor because lots of people engage in rape apologism for the vast, wide, varied, multiplicity of reasons why lots of people engage in rape apologism, but rather that he is doing so manifestly because he is a victim of sexual abuse is a truly odious and deeply harmful suggestion to make.
It is a suggestion which harms survivors of sexual violence in order to take pot-shots at a rape apologist not because his rape apologies are rank and disgusting, but because he himself is a victim of sexual violence. It is a suggestion which is born out of, and which upholds firmly, a Rape Culture which demands that all victims of sexual violence must react in the "right" ways (or else you weren't really abused) and which suggests that all victims of sexual violence are changed -- or, to use the language of rape culture, damaged -- in the "right" ways (or else you weren't really abused), and which then deliberately uses that enforced framework as an excuse to dismiss victims of sexual violence as overly-emotional, fundamentally-damaged people who shouldn't be listened to.
Survivors of sexual violence are not a monolith. Some of us may react to our victimization with one or more emotions; some of us may not feel a strong response or an emotional reaction to our experiences with sexual violence. Some of us may have differing reactions to our victimization at different times; some of us may maintain the same unwavering reaction to our experiences for our entire life. Some of us may feel changed by our victimization; some of us may feel unchanged by our experiences with sexual violence. Some of us may label all or part of some felt change as negative or harmful; some of us may label all or part of some felt change with positive connotations. There is no right or correct or standard way to react or respond or change or not-change as a result of sexual victimization.
It is wholly and completely up to the survivor of sexual violence to decide how, if at all, hir experiences with sexual violence have affected hir. Which is one of the many, many reasons why a disclosure that someone is a survivor of sexual violence is not an invitation for others to audit their experiences for them.
Richard Dawkins is a rape apologist, but it is not our place to assume or guess or joke or psychoanalyze from afar that he is a rape apologist because he is a victim of sexual violence. And just as Richard Dawkins is wrong to assert that his peers weren't harmed (because it is their right to determine whether they were or not), it is equally wrong for others to assert that Richard Dawkins was harmed when he says he wasn't, because it is his right to decide whether he was harmed or not.
Added from the comments at Shakesville: Given the vast number of survivors of sexual violence in our society (LOTS) and the vast numbers of rape apologists in our society (LOTS), it is not surprising that there's an overlap between the two groups. Suggesting that rape apologists who are also survivors are rape apologists because they are survivors is exceedingly inappropriate.