Often it is meant as words of comfort ….
“That can’t be true”
“These people are just crazy/evil” (There’s plenty of information on the ableism and destructiveness of language related to insanity metaphors so I am not addressing that here)
“I don’t understand why people do that”
All of these things cast the experience into the realm of disbelief, because we think by distancing ourselves from the reality of it we are creating comfort. Really, we are just creating comfort for ourselves.
When I told the police that I thought (and it has been confirmed) that people were printing copies of my dating profile and leaving it on strangers cars the initial response was shock and horror. Like, why do people do that.
You need to already know why people do that (Because I am a feminist, a labelled a special snowflake, labelled a tumblrite, gender variant and open about disability).
We call it crazy because it’s easy. We call it rare, unbelievable, because then it is a far away thing we don’t have to deal with. The reality of this attitude is that is isolates the victim and our desire to close the topic prevents action from being taken to prevent or adequately respond.
It should be enough to recognize that I was targeted as a person worthy (in someones eyes, needing) of oppression and action can be taken from there.
It is the same when we finally get around to do something, maybe seeing a doctor far too late for some health issue; we need to contumely recognize the obstacles which may have prevented a person from seeking help sooner (in my case, when I finally made it to a physiotherapist to try to treat the injuries from my assault I was sent out the door within 10 minutes).
Perhaps we are in a position of service or power and a person is presented with a situation we are not familiar with the instinct is to push that person/situation away because it is seen as tedious, confusing or whatever (I am guilty of this too, as I worked for over a year full-time in the service industry with an injury related to my assault, so I did not have the capacity to be my full and best self). When we have whole demographics of people who fit this description of unfamiliar, is it any surprise that it might take them abhorrent amounts of time to find and access services? That perhaps they are tired from trying.
The last thing they need when they get to your door asking for help is the disbelief that their life, circumstances and situation are in the realm of the impossible.
Because here we are, I’m possible.