I know that some won’t read this blog.
Or, if they do, will get defensive, angry, or completely disagree.
Sexual predators (and those who protect them) have found a new champion in our 45th president.
Still, I am stunned by President Trump’s new low.
He asks why Christine Blasey Ford never reported her alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.
Of course, it is an easy question for him, as he is an accused sexual predator himself. He’s been caught on live video saying that if you’re famous, you can grab a woman’s privates and get away with it.
And, like many predators, (and the people who protect them), he finds it easier to blame the victim.
Still, I would like to answer that question. Why didn’t Mrs. Ford report? Where was her ‘loving family?’ Why do so many women like her, victims of sexual abuse and assault take years to tell (or never tell) what has happened to them?
Okay, let’s look at some possible reasons:
Maybe she was sexually abused as a child, and the family protected the perpetrator/told her not to make family business public.
Maybe she told and was not believed.
Maybe she told and someone asked what she had done to turn the boy on.
Maybe she told and someone told her she should have fought harder to prevent it.
Maybe she was told that if she hadn’t been drinking, dressing provocatively, in a fraternity dorm room or party……it would not have happened.
Maybe she was told that if she hadn’t been such a ‘tease’ it would not have happened.
Today, we are in a country where the sitting president dares to ask the question of a sexual abuse survivor of ‘why didn’t she report it.”
Mr. President, let me give you a few statistics from the early 90’s, when I started to be vocal about my own childhood sexual abuse and a sexual assault which occurred when I was in college. I am quite positive that those stats have not changed except to become worse.
1 in 3 females in America are sexually abused/assaulted by the age of 18.
1 in 5 males face the same abuse.
19 out of 20 cases of rape (either gender) or sexual abuse are NEVER reported.
Of those that are reported, only 1 in about 20 more ever are prosecuted.
I recall writing an editorial about being a victim of crime, and reading it to my Mother. She gave me a threatening look, which I knew well. She had been telling me, as long as I could remember that I wasn’t to tell what happened in my family.
Once she learned about my sexual abuse, she apparently felt the need to protect the primary culprit, her husband and the family breadwinner. When she wasn’t doing this, she was insisting that it was ‘all in my mind.’
I remember three months after my college assault, crying while talking over the phone to my paternal great grandmother. About how I was having flashbacks, and basically still could not function. How I was failing my classes. How I kept thinking that I saw my attacker every time I went anywhere. (It didn’t help that he was released from jail after his arrest and began to stalk me at my new apartment.)
Her comment? “It’s been three months. You should be over that by now. Aren’t you a Christian?”
We women (and men) who have gone through this baptism of hell-fire and come out on the other side often have to do so alone. When we speak out, we risk making ourselves vulnerable to other perverts who smell fresh meat. We are clearly told that somehow, the abuse/assault was our fault. That if we speak out, we are somehow bad.
In my experience, when a few so-called Christian (and married) men heard of my story, they responded by hitting on me sexually. One proudly told me that he had once been charged with sexual abuse of a teen in his care, and that ‘she couldn’t prove it.’
When I complained about his later sexual harassment of me at work (he owned the place), I was told by him, ‘you’ll never be able to prove it.’ And despite the fact that this man is well known in my former town of residence for not being able to keep his hands off his young female employees, it is likely that a large group still believe his disavowals, and blame the young girls.
It has taken half a lifetime for me to become remotely capable of trusting the men in my life. For years, I avoided commitment by choosing addicts or men who claimed to be in recovery from addiction but who still acted like addicts. I avoided commitment by allowing myself to be re-victimized over and over again.
No abuse/assault survivor’s story is the same. Betrayal can happen so many ways. There are the children whose fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, etc. treat them as a sexual object and then do their best to keep them silent. Or, it could be a date rape, or mass assault of a girl at a frat party. It could be the betrayal of a stranger, who forces himself on a woman he doesn’t know and should never be sexually violent towards.
Betrayal is betrayal. And sometimes the survivors just don’t have the words or ability to tell.
They’re just trying to survive.
In my current workplace, we are trained that harassment doesn’t have to be proven. If you are uncomfortable with someone’s behavior, and they keep doing it after you tell them to stop, its harassment.
I like that definition.
However, what of the many workplaces who don’t think like that? What of the stories still happening where the ‘blame the victim’ boys club (and their boisterous cheerleaders) try to insure that such behavior is buried?
I wouldn’t expect the current president, or any other male who has such clear disrespect for women to understand why Mrs. Ford didn’t tell until now.
However, I understand. And I honor all those years she tried to make a life rise up from the ashes. Sometimes, with God’s help and good people around you, such victory is possible.
I look at what has been created from my own ashes, and know it is true. But I also know why so many people either never tell, or stop telling.
We stop telling if we are not believed, minimized, mocked, or re-victimized. Or maybe we never tell to start, knowing this is the likely outcome.
I would like to see a stronger, more just America, where such foolish questions as ‘why didn’t she report it?’ never have to be asked.
You deserve to tell your story. It is your most basic human right, whether the predators out there want to hear it or not. But sometimes, you can’t–for years. And, that’s okay.
To all who have lost their voice, I pray that the courage of Christine Blasey Ford will help you learn to speak again.
I pray that someday, a woman speaking up about her darkest moments isn’t treated with disbelief, mockery or idiocy. Our country can do better for the sake of all our female citizens. We truly CAN do better.
This may not happen in my lifetime, but you can’t blame me if I hope.