The Inconvenience of Victims


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.