The tabloids are bursting this week with controversy over Jessica Simpson’s comments in a recent Elle Magazine cover story in which she discusses the song “Remember That”, written by myself and Rachel Proctor. The song reaches out to women who are experiencing abuse from the perspective of someone who has lived through it, and in the interview Jessica admits that she herself has experienced abuse in the past.
Online message boards are overflowing with discussion about who may have abused Jessica, and why she has chosen not to come out and identify the culprit. Knowing the level of sensationalist media around her private life, I completely understand and respect her decision not to name names. If she wanted to, Jessica would have every right to identify the person, but that is beside the point. The truth is, it doesn’t matter who is responsible for abusing her. What does matter is that it can happen to anyone…and that it isn’t usually obvious to the outside world when it’s happening.
I have to say that this is something I have strong feelings about. Having lived through an abusive relationship myself, I was faced with the decision about whether to speak up about the experience or not. Rachel and I chose to write a song about it, and in doing so to share our experience with the public. The down side is that somebody might get hurt by it – suspicions and aspersions cast towards anyone, regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, are a sad side effect. But the upside is that when you think about the sheer number of women who could be HELPED by hearing that song, I believe the good outweighs the bad a thousand times over.
When Jessica talked to Rachel and I about how deeply she identified with this song, we knew it had found the right home, but we were actually quite amazed that she was going to record it. We always knew that it would have to be recorded by an artist who could identify with the lyrics of the song – lyrics that say “I’ve stood there in your shoes” – but we didn’t know if anyone would ever have the guts to publicly stand up and take ownership of having personally experienced abuse. It would be a whole lot easier for an artist to sing a song about abuse written story-style, in the third person. That could climb up the chart just as fast as this song could, but it could never change someone’s life as effectively as a song sung directly TO an abused woman BY an abused woman could. So the fact that Jessica was willing to record this song and to face the controversy it brings is both a testament to her strength and a measure of her dedication to helping other women through what she’s experienced.
Living through something like that…it’s the darkest, most painful territory of the human spirit. It leaves you with a deep compassion for others who are going through it, and a burning desire to somehow help them find their way to the light again. For Jessica’s sake, for Rachel’s and for mine, I hope that this song is a ray of light for someone when they need it most.