I don’t know that I’ll be able to watch American Horror Story: Cult this year. Though I’ve enjoyed previous seasons, this season just seems to be…too real. And that’s the scary thing, isn’t it? Reality is more terrifying than horror right now. Let that sink in for just a moment.
I began watching American Horror Story a few years ago, after a friend suggested I try it. I found Murder House too melodramatic, and Asylum triggered my PTSD in the first episode. For some reason I skipped over Coven and went straight to Freak Show, which I did enjoy. Then I watched part of Hotel and all of Roanoke, which was my favorite season until I went back to watch Coven.
I began watching Coven after my mother left our family. She was volatile, abusive, and cruel. I was the oldest child, bent and twisted to her will until there was nothing left of me. As the child of a narcissistic parent, I found the story of Cordelia Foxx and her mother Fiona Goode to be quite cathartic.
While I did appreciate the other themes presented in AHS Coven, the one closest to my experience was that of abusive mother and abused child, told in the relationships between Cordelia Foxx and Fiona Goode, Kyle and Alicia Spencer, and Luke and Joan Ramsey. Fiona’s neglect and disparagement of Cordelia, Alicia’s sexual abuse of Kyle, and Joan’s infliction of religious and physical trauma on Luke reminded me so very much of my own story and the stories I have heard from family members and friends.
The reason I loved AHS Coven, however, is that it didn’t shy away from the horrible pain that abuse causes. It also doesn’t shy away from how we can live through and even overcome it. Cordelia’s abilities were not lost, just hidden. Kyle was able to find love and a new home. Luke’s mother realized the horror of her actions, even if just for a moment.
This year has been a rough one for the abused. Some of us have chosen to speak out about the abuse, whether we’re in the entertainment industry, the political arena, or the religious sphere. Those who chose to spoke up have given the rest courage to put their own experience into words, and the world has had to be faced with a terrible truth: abuse is rampant. And it should be exposed. Those who turn a blind eye or defend the abusers are making a choice to stand against the oppressed. We learn who to trust from those who would wish us to remain silent.
Perhaps the most piercing commentary on the entire issue is spoken by Cordelia at the end of the last episode, in response to her mother’s self-absorbed observation that her daughter had finally shed tears over her:
“I’m not crying over you. I’m crying for me. You were the monster in every one of my closets.
A lifetime spent either trying to prove myself to you get close to you or get away from you.
I’m crying for the girl in me who dies when you die.”
To those of you who have been abused: I believe you. You are worthy of love, and healing, and safety. You did not deserve this.
And to those of you who have abused us: your day of reckoning is here.