The Inconvenience of Victims

victim

My husband sent me this story last week, and I’m now able to respond to it. Trustee Albert L. Lord wrote this about the aftermath of the former Penn State president’s guilty verdict (one charge of child endangerment) in regards to the Sandusky case. “Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth.”

He also said, “I am tired of victims’ getting in the way of clearer thinking and a reasoned approach to who knew what and who did what.”

First, what does income have to do with anything? I would gladly trade all the money this world offers to be able to reverse the damage my own sexual abuse has caused me. Money means nothing when you’ve been violated (even if you’ve won a judgment). And long-term violation stalks you the rest of your life. We have to remember that victims don’t ask to be harmed; they don’t want to be preyed upon. But it happens, and when it does, a soul wound inaugurates, then festers. It’s the horrific gift that keeps on giving.

Second, Mr. Lord doesn’t realize that he participates in secondary violation when he dismisses the gravity of what went on. Many sexual abuse victims take years to tell of their abuse, suffering silently in shame, because they’re afraid of what people will say or do (or not do). So when they finally garner up the courage to talk, they face secondary violation from people who either dismiss the gravity of their abuse, or throw cliches their way. Unfortunately, the church has long taken this approach, preferring victims to get over it, quit talking about it, and certainly not disclose the abuse if it happened within the four walls of the institution. I fear that is what Mr. Lord’s position is: to protect the institution over the cries of victims. (I’m grateful to be a part of GRACE who is actively working toward reversing this trend within the church.)

Third, pardon my sarcasm, but when Mr. Lord is tired of victims getting in the way, his being inconvenienced is demonstrating an obscene lack of empathy for anyone who has worn the burden of sexual abuse. How inconvenient to have victims around! How inconvenient they keep telling their stories in hopes of finally being heard, healed, and empathized with. How inconvenient our pain is to those who pretend to understand but have literally no concept of the kind of trauma (and PTSD) the sexually exploited come from. It would be a nicer world, of course, if this heinous crime did not exist, and it would make for better publicity for organizations if no abuse ever happened. But the truth is, it has happened and it continues to happen precisely because so few dare to speak up (and when they do speak up, they’re asked to be conveniently silenced).

Instead of marginalizing, silencing, and re-victimizing victims, it’s time we give platforms and stages to those who are brave enough to shed light on this epidemic. Sexual abuse thrives in secrecy. It multiplies (and perpetrators get away with more and more abuse) with silence. It stops when fair-minded people stand up, dare to listen to victims and dignify their stories, and put a line in the sand, saying NO MORE.

I’m grateful that not everyone holds Mr. Lord’s position. I’m thankful for those who dare to shed light on this insidious epidemic. I’m humbled that God has brought me on a beautiful healing journey, and given me the privilege of hearing others’ stories.

As I’ve written before, I believe sexual abuse is Satan’s greatest weapon against humanity. Although it’s discouraging to read about the inconvenience of victims, I am hopeful precisely because more and more people are daring to tell their stories, and more and more people (thankfully!) are willing to really listen and enact change.

How about you? How do you think the tide of sexual abuse, secrecy and shame will be reversed?

In case you’re reading this and you’re battling your own traumatic past, I’ve written a book about the healing journey. I pray it blesses you. If you’d like the more affordable ebook, click here. Otherwise, click the image to purchase the physical book.

 

  • Tedd

    I would agree that the tide is going to be difficult to reverse. But I’m somewhat hopeful that two kinds of things will have major impact.

    One is for nations to institute a commission like the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and empower that commission to write laws that will make the penalties for hiding abuse sufficiently painful that those institutions will take it seriously.

    Two is for nations to adopt the Nordic model regarding prostituted women. Ireland just die. It establishes severe penalties for purchasing a woman’s/girl’s body for sex. It doesn’t punish the woman/girl. In those countries that have had it on the books for a while, prostitution and sex trafficking have begun to disappear.

    The idea that a child (or anybody) can be used for the pleasure of another needs to die. That includes pornography.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love the first one: to make it painful for institutions NOT to report.

      I also appreciate the latter, as it doesn’t punish the one being preyed upon.

      • Tedd

        Since the average age of entry into prostitution is about 13, the majority of prostituted women were underage when they started.

        Also: one of the most compelling books on it is Paid For by Rachel Moran. It is not a Christian book and it is very difficult but worth the time to understand what it means to be prostituted and the effects that has on all women, not just the prostituted ones.

  • Susan G.

    Thanks for this Mary. I’m not sure if this horrific “tide” will ever change…but certainly bringing the spotlight on such hideous crimes will hopefully have an effect on the perpetrators – to STOP, and to others who entertain thoughts regarding sexual abusing someone will think twice and not fall into this horrible sin. This may be wishful thinking on my part, but with prayer added in I pray this will happen less and less…
    The world is not getting any better, but worse possibly, so, until Jesus comes and destroys every trace of sin on this earth, the enemy will keep trying his best to destroy God’s people. Thank goodness God is on the Throne and will end it all on that Day with His justice…and mercy.
    Come Lord Jesus!
    Grace and Peace on this Resurrection Day!

    • Mary DeMuth

      That’s my hope.

  • Janet from FL

    What is sad is that making simple rules of our own conduct, anyone in an authority position, that we would not be alone with any person who might be a temptation to us. No coach, teacher, minister, priest… should ever be alone with a child, any child, nor alone with an adult of the opposite sex. We should do what the Bible suggests and go by 2’s to work with or talk to someone under our authority. What is frustrating is that following this simple rule of “not leading ourself into temptation” and being professional in all our dealings with people, would have prevented many sexual abuses. This does not solve all situations, but it does work for many. I pray that in hindsight, people in authority would follow this rule. Parents should insist that their children refuse to meet with anyone alone. The devil loves to tempt us. We do not have to follow.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said and reasoned.

  • Conserbatives_conserve_little

    Not everyone wants healing.many take the approach that revenge is healing.this is particularly true of male victims. Healing requires that you actually be healed. That can only come from the word of God. The Bible forbids suing a professing Believer. It also says to criminally prosecute them.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m grateful for a God of justice, but His ultimate justice doesn’t always happen on earth, which does make it hard for victims who feel the perpetrators got away with what they did.

      • Carrol Anne

        I have never believed in revenge. But when you see an abuser seemingly have everything, money, prestige, looks, a loving wife, it is hard to understand. Only I know this person doesn’t believe in God, is isolated, and I would never trade places with him. I don’t have a lot of money, but I have loving friends and family, and a personal relationship with Jesus.

        • Mary DeMuth

          I rest in knowing GOD SEES.