Preface: This isn't about politics or political parties. So, don't comment about politics, I reserve the right to delete it. Also, vague details of a sexual assault are included (trigger warning).
In the last week, an audio/video of a presidential candidate has been made widespread with vulgar content. Yes, its 10+ years old audio. I don't care. The content is still repulsive. And if the details it contains have been acted upon, it is illegal. It describes sexual assault, which is defined by any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.
I happen to think that this particular presidential candidate that stated these words is a dirt bag and likely criminal, for the words stated and everything else I have read about this person. So, I wasn't surprised by what surfaced, I wasn't even shocked.
But, I was completely disgusted by the leaders who claim moral high-ground, especially Christian leaders, who stood by this individual and even excused this behavior. How? How is that earthly possible? How? How do you know the God I know, the same Gospel I know, read the same Bible I read, confess the same Jesus I confess, and STILL make excuses for this behavior?
How do you condone and encourage a culture that says whatever action pleases a man is okay, as long as he has the money and power to back it up and protect himself? (And dare I say, the right skin color? White privilege anyone?)
This all bothers, disturbs, disgusts me...for all the reasons it should any moral human being that believes in absolutes, laws, personal freedom, justice, liberty, etc. It bothers me a Christian when the God who saved me is having His reputation dragged along by these so called "leaders" who fail to defend victims and instead defend and excuse this scumbag's actions. This offends me as a mother who is raising two children who will one day be adults in this broken world.
But, it also offends me as a woman and the girl I once was. A girl that was subjected to and influenced by the Rape Culture in which I came of age.
...because of the little boy who would say nasty, lewd, sexual things to me at school when no adults were around and I was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone.
...because of the culture that taught all of us that girls and women don't have value and aren't worth love unless we meet a certain standard of beauty and flaunt our sexuality.
...because gross jokes in middle school by boys became the norm and too much of school days became peppered with sexual harassment and innuendos.
...because big boobs, no boobs...we all got harassed and teased without end.
...because at 16 I was sexually assaulted and told no one because "it must have been my fault".
At 38, I know better. I know what was done to me was illegal. That if I had told anyone, I could have pressed charges if I wanted. I know now that although the perpetrator was also 16, he was a predator. He singled me out for ease of access, he had his way, and he walked away unfazed.
There was no consent on my part as to the events that unfolded. There WAS 'Please stop', 'No, don't do that' coming from my mouth. There was physical force used by his much larger body against my small 100 pound frame to hold me down.
Was I physically damaged by the event?
No, I don't think so. It was a long time ago and traumatic, so some details are hard to recall.
If it was so long ago, why does it matter now?
Because it does. Events like this don't go away, just like the death of a loved one doesn't "go away". It damaged and battered me in deep and disturbing ways.
I never told anyone when the event happened. I told a couple peers that we had "messed around". As a therapist reminded me "You were a child." So, I went years without speaking of it. Eventually, I disclosed the event to my husband around the time of our marriage. But, it wasn't until 19 years later, when I was 35 years old and had two young children, that I was able to remember the event with any real clarity.
Then, a year later, while in a therapy session with a licensed counselor, I was able to reveal the event and all the details I could recall. I was able to say out loud and tell the truth about it.
"I was sexually assaulted."
See, for all the years in between my youth, the trauma, and the enemy of God had convinced of lies regarding the event.
The lies sounded like:
"You asked for that."
"You put yourself in a bad position."
"You feel bad because you didn't like what you thought you'd like."
"You're just a slut, whore."
"No one wants to love someone like you."
So my husband and our love and the grace of God had to break through these lies and the damage done in their wake. It was insanely hard. I was married at 25 and didn't get clarity until 35, so we spent years and years fighting a battle we couldn't name. I dealt with massive torment and anguish related to all things sexual. Emotionally, it was very hard to let my husband in fully.
You see, I'd never been able to name the thing that happened to me as sexual assault. So, I'd never had the chance to deal with it as sexual assault, or heal from it and the trauma it caused.
I'm grateful to stand on this side of wholeness and tell my story. I'm grateful to say that my marriage flourishes and this event from 20+ years ago has no hold on me. I wish it was the same for all of us.
If you're reading this: please know Rape Culture and sexual assault of all kind are harmful and dangerous and need to be treated as such. Nothing can justify such actions and behaviors.
If you're a woman who has experienced assault in silence: Please don't give up hope. Know that help and healing can still be achieved. Tell your story when you are ready and encourage others to tell the truth of how assault and Rape Culture affect them.
If you're like me and have found healing, join me in standing up and being counted as a SURVIVOR.
Resources and links:
Productive and kind comments and questions are welcome...and even room to vent :)