The biggest shock to me when I started speaking about abuse is just how rampant it is in our society. Not just in polygamy or the Catholic Church, or the Appalachians. It’s everywhere. I have had women tell me that they don’t know one single woman who has not been abused like this at some point in her life. That is…troubling?…alarming?…horrible?...no word seems to cut it for how wrong it is!
Equally wrong is how immediately people jump to the defense of the perpetrator, or blame victims for seeking attention. Attention?! Really?? This kind of “attention” was paid for dearly by years of guilt and shame and self-blame. And if you had been abused and had the courage to say what happened, you would know how humiliating this kind of “attention” is. When people accuse a victim of seeking attention, it’s an indication of two things. First, it’s an indication that the person making the accusation is the type of character who either doesn’t understand how horrible this kind of “attention” is to bear, or is a person insane with need for attention. We are not.
Second, it’s an indication of the much more disturbing problem of apathy in our society. Recently someone commented that this problem ‘has always been around and always will be, so why try to do anything about it?’ Well, murder has always been around and always will be, so why try to do anything about that? Slavery and the subjugation of women and genocide and kidnapping have always been around, so why try to change that? The continuous and rapid destruction of our planet hasn’t always been around, but it is now thanks to the greed of humanity, so why try to do anything about that?
It’s incredible to me that people think that ignoring these problems is acceptable. Apathy and complacency are the bacteria that abuse feeds on. Perpetrators multiply like a pestilence because we have sat back and allowed them to. Society watches with a slow shake of their head and a mournful frown as women and children get sucked down into the abyss of abuse as though there is nothing to do about it while the perpetrators stand amongst the crowds shoving innocent bystanders in. And when a woman finally has the courage to crawl out of the black whirlwind she’s been shoved into as a child, with scars on her body and soul, what happens to her then? Society is willing enough to assist the perpetrator treat her as an untouchable or push her back in. If she raises a finger to name her abuser, family and friends rush to the perpetrators side because they are disgusted by what happened and don’t want their coziness to be infringed by the ugly truth.
We all have participated in our own way in perpetuating this social tragedy. We think because we believe in Jesus or have made some special promises to God that we are safe from being blamed for taking any part in it. But I would like to say that if you ignore abuse, you are part of the problem. You’re like the person in a crowd of people watching a rape, and then you go about your day patting yourself on the back for not being a rapist.
I hope for a day that women and men challenge the destructive status quo and stand together to stop these horrendous abuses from happening. In this generation, I want adults to talk to their children about abuses that could happen and what to do if it does happen. Because it is so prevalent that it might.
After that, I hope for a day that men and boys will be afraid to perpetrate abuse because the victims will name them. Yes. I want them to be afraid to perpetrate. Don’t you?
And after that day I hope those that have perpetrated will receive the help they need to become accountable and make amends to their victims.
And after that, I hope that there will be a day when we are shocked and surprised that this could happen to anyone.
It is natural to wonder if a man who has committed these abuses will commit the same crimes upon his daughters. If Rhonda had said nothing about Marvin’s daughters, people would still wonder about it. When I heard that Matt had daughters of his own, it was natural that I hoped he wasn’t doing the same things to them that he had done to me (and to others).
This problem is not about me or Rhonda. Or Matt. Or Marvin. Or my dad. It’s about everyone in our society and the challenge that we face to make this world safer for our children. You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.