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When I first meet people I am open towards them. I listen actively (looking for normal social cues and also other clues about you), giving 95% of belief in what you tell me, whether it’s the boss on my first day on the job or a friend sharing the disaster of her day. (Well, okay. Certain people get 99.9% and you know who you are.) Ninety-five percent of me believes the rest of you, and I reserve a little bit because of this thing I have learned. Most people don’t go around lying about everything, but I find many of us embellish or omit things in normal conversation. I’m looking for you in what you do not tell me, what I am not seeing. Mea culpa, it’s how I protect myself.

I spent time with the recent celebrity trial and learned alot about myself. Go on, roll your eyes and sigh. Come with me all the way on this little essay. It gave me a reason for self-examination, what I believe and why. It was good to see a real trial and not a melodramatic portrayal on TV or cinema. It reminds me that if you took away their fame, they could be the neighbors arguing down the hall, which is also a reminder that celebrity, fame, money does not buy happiness, not even close. During the trial alot of dirt came out in the wash. I was disappointed by some of it and also not completely surprised by some of it. At the conclusion my flags, gut feelings, instincts felt a sort of vindication.

The biggest question I want to ask everyone now is this: What *exactly* does a person have to do to convince you they have been the victim of abuse? What is *your* threshold for belief? Three photos or hundreds? One mark on the body or hundreds? One tear, one sniffle, or none? Zero pictures, zero tears, just a stoic recounting and nothing else? How much context of the entire situation do you ask for, need? What do your instincts need to believe, to convince you that something happened? At the conclusion of the trial my instincts reaffirmed my beliefs: That something happened, but I do not put 100% faith in what *any* of them described. I do, however, put all my faith in the two alpacas the lady outside the courthouse brought along to bring good vibes.

When a person comes to you and tells you they have been a victim of abuse, I want you to believe them and I hope you do. I hope you will listen actively and you are one of the millions of good people who do not rely on social media to tell you how to feel about something. If you are comfortable doing so, are in a position to be available, I hope you will ask if they need help. It takes courage for men in particular to speak up. Having said that, I am still comfortable reserving 100% belief in what a person tells me and that doesn’t make me a bad person, just cautious. Commence booing me for following celebrity tripe, and I thank you for reading this to the end.