You may wonder why I talk about it.
I talk, I write about it because evil thrives in darkness. And evil will visit again.
Because so many of us – men, women, children, seniors – carry someone else’s shame as our own and we stay silent.
By bringing violence to light we rout out the predators and the fear diminishes bit-by-bit.
Because there are so many of us who have been raped and/or assaulted by word or deed and we feel so very alone.
Silence allows this personal and socialized violence to fester as the rapists roam freely.
It would be great if by talking or writing, all of the heart wounds would heal and we’d be free to live and love as we’d been crafted.
If simply talking would eradicate trafficking, sexual exploitation, abuse, and despair, I would never shut up.
Why do people stay silent?
We stay silent because the risk of losing what little we have left keeps us quietly crawling through the battlefield alone.
In American culture, in speaking about personal violence, we often risk our families, our friends, our social and professional credibility. Even amongst those who intellectually know and practice counsel, it is often hard to believe the great grief stories people tell.
It is human nature to want to believe in good. We love happy endings.
It is so painful to listen and believe that people in our town, in our schools and churches; in our helping professions, in our neighborhoods and families are sexual predators or abusers. (See “Parting Shot” below.)
We don’t want to believe. We want to feel safe.
Even I want to believe that the world is good. To believe that people are true and that the incidence of childhood rape or violence is “really not that bad.” To hold tightly to a “safe” worldview requires then that we – who have endured assault – shoulder some or all of the blame for the injuries.
And it is so easy to blame the broken. What about that dress or those ideals or all that hoity-toity book learning?
It’s easy to insulate ourselves from the heart-crushing reality of a broken world, by accusing the raped…abused…exploited. Maybe they sinned and earned this grief? If only their religion or lifestyle looked like “mine” then they would have been fine. Maybe they’re just stupid or secretly asking for it. What were they thinking would happen by moving to Cambodia (Atlanta, Calgary, Mae Sot, Frankfurt…)?
What did they expect would happen?
But that is ridiculous.
The crime of rape does not rest in the victim, but the violence and actions of the rapist.
Abuse is not fostered in the bloody body of an 18-month-old, but in the one who hog-tied him and beat him to death with a bat. Kids can be obstinate, but no kid deserves to perpetually fear the people in his own house or to be harmed (end stop).
In no circumstance, in no situation, in no relationship is sexual violence okay or deserved or earned or “understandable”.
There is no defense.
I’m all for modesty, but my dress does not determine your license to rape me.
There is no “pass” for rape, abuse, abandonment, torture, etc.
There is no pass for purchasing a child or a child’s image so that you can be sexually stimulated by sexual activity or fantasy with that child…or any person.
No wedding ring
attendance at a party
lucidity or lack of lucidity
titillating urges and inability to control self
the moon above
or any other variable, action, contract (perceived or real)
allows for sexual violence/violence to be okay.
Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Squat. Diddley.
This includes (and it still happens to me…at my vintage) any harassing cat-calling, aggressive following, stalking, and/or becoming aggressive because your advances were not welcome by the recipient.
How would you feel if the tables were turned?
If I…or some great big person forced themselves upon you?
Enticed your toddler?
Hazed your son?
Manipulated your daughter?
Raped your wife or husband?
Assaulted your mom or dad?
Took advantage of your grandparents?
Would it be okay then? Would it be okay to look away then?
I’d like to toss the internet trolls into this discussion who – under the cowardice of anonymity – stalk with such sexually deviant, cruel, self-righteous aggression, that if the interaction were face-to-face, the police would be called to provide protection from the aggressor. But since internet trolling floats in cyberspace, little is done to protect the men and women who suffer at the hands of the:
who get their jollies from
asserting fear and terror and “power” over their prey.**
This is why I keep talking and writing: because too many of us tremble in our remembering; the risk of speaking truth and seeking credible help seems too great.
Despite the punctuated seasons of terror and grief, I’ve lived an interesting life. When it comes to kids, friends, a sister, and a collection of animal rescues, I’ve been given more than I deserve.
A fella I dated once gave me a quote that reads something like, “in good company, we can be brave.” And this is why I am still writing.
Next, I will write about snow or daisies or the wisdom found around a table of people who do not agree. Anything, but this. For a while.
As always, I’m discovering such a life while searching for the north star.
**for a sampling of this, check out this american life’s recent podcast, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS“
* * * * * *
Our young men can be challenged and encouraged to grow as strong compassionate men who respect one another and the women of all ages in their lives.
Our young women can be challenged and encouraged to grow as strong compassionate women who respect one another and the men of all ages in their lives.
We don’t have to hurt one another.
Parting shot (via Twitter):