This week has been the most difficult week I have experienced in many years. It is the combination of dealing with my health issues, the burden of feeling like I have let others down, and the constant barrage of bad news. It has also been a week of confronting my past and issues I thought I had worked through already.
I am a survivor of physical, mental and sexual abuse. And the constant news concerning a certain Supreme Court nominee has left me feeling raw. I understand how it feels to be marginalized and ignored. It happened to me when I tried to speak out against my rapists. Yes, two of them. Statistically, a person is more likely to be raped more than once in their life. Rapists can sense the vulnerability of someone, especially someone who was raped before.
As a child, when I reported to my parents and grandparents that my cousin was raping me, I needed their support, comfort and assurances that they would stop him. Instead, I was called a liar. I was forced to spend more time with him. And this gave him all the more access to abuse me. He sits in prison for other reasons today.
This is why it is so frustrating when I see people making jokes about those who put their lives, careers, and families on the line to speak out about their abuse. It hurts me very deeply because it puts me back in my grandmother’s living room being told that I was trying to ruin my cousins life, I was lying, and I needed to apologize to him. That is a trauma that I may never fully move past.
As a society, we have to do better than this. I have seen Doctors, Nurses, Physicians Assistants and others who are sometimes the first person a victim discloses to joke about sexual abuse. I have seen them belittle survivors and glorify the abusers. And that has to stop! We should be better than this.
We need to learn to embrace the victims. It is our job to give them a safe place to disclose their trauma, a place where they can get help and be heard. They need our love and support. Without it, many victims either self medicate with drugs and alcohol, or worse, they try and sometimes succeed in killing themselves. I know, I tried to kill myself as a teenager.
It would take me years to finally disclose all the abuse I suffered from my cousin, my mother, and many, many others. It has been liberating, painful, and difficult to deal with all the emotions surrounding those events. Thankfully, I have a great therapist who is helping me work through those issues. And I feel more at peace today than I ever have in my past.
I beg of you and all of society, please stop being so mean. Stop vilifying the victims. Be a force for good and love those around you. Because the very soul of our nation, the very soul of world, depends on it.
At Saint Francis, we are committed to being a safe place for those who are hurt, ignored, abused, mistreated, and marginalized. As Pastor, I am committed to defending each and every person who walks through our doors. And I will be there to listen, provide support and prayer, and if need be, help you find the professional help you need to work through any trauma you have suffered.
It is not an easy journey, but it is one I have traveled myself.
Remember, I believe you. God loves you, and so do we.