This post is one which comes with a very broken heart. For too long there has been a very fertile atmosphere in churches of the United States for sexual assault and abuse to happen.
For too long the Church has helped silence victims rather than empower them.
For too long victims have been nameless and voiceless rather than Human Beings made in God’s very own image who are heard.
For too long we have shamed victims and blamed them for someone else’s perversity and lack of discipline.
I want to address Christians with this blog post primarily, because I want us to lead the movement in stopping and preventing abuse. When I look at the #MeToo movement, I have to ask, “Why haven’t we done better in preventing this?”
- To those who have been a victim of sexual assault or harassment, know that you are still loved and lovable. You are still made in God’s image and are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are worth more than your weight in gold. Jesus died for you and rose from the grave for you.
- To those who have been a victim, I am sorry for any ways that I have enabled your shame instead of giving you an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry upon, and a voice to advocate for you.
- To those who have been victimized: you are not to blame
- To those who have been victimized- I believe you.
To those who do not understand what the #MeToo movement is about, here are some links to more explanatory articles than this blog post.
To those who have not been victims but want to know how to help, here are a few quick thoughts.
- Be quiet and listen. Right now you have friends on Facebook who are posting part or all of their story for the first time. Be attentive and open your ears to what they are saying. Do not blame or shame them.
- Teach that “no” means “no.”
- Be sure that you speak up/ act when you see harassment happening (if you aren’t sure if it is harassment, look at the face of the person on the receiving end… that will make it blatantly obvious)
Here is a quick definition of when it is appropriate to make a sexual advance (for those that need help understanding this) on anyone other than your sober spouse.
I do not care if you say “she/ he is asking for it.” No… they weren’t!
- NO means NO
- If any alcohol is in that person’s system it could be affecting their judgment.
- If any drug is in their system, it could be affecting their judgment.
- Stop “cat calling”
- She is not asking asking for it – YOU are the problem, not her
- “NO thank” you means NO
Many victims are in a position where they feel powerless to say “no” or be heard if they report what happened. Please, never ever ever make them feel shame by how you respond. (Yes, there are ways to empower someone to keep them from being a possible victim again, but the time and place is not when they tell you their story for the first time. . . and yes, there are false stories and accusations. . . but leave the “fact checking” to the proper authorities. Too many people never speak up because they are convinced they will never be heard or believed — read this to see what I mean http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/11/entertainment/terry-crews-sexual-harassment/index.html )
If you have been assaulted or harassed, here are people to contact (not necessarily in this order, but I would start here.
- Your local police (either call 911 or use their non “emergency” number, which can usually be found online without much effort. Both will get you in contact with someone at the police office)
- National Sexual Abuse Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
- National Abuse hotline (www.thehotline.org) 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Finally, victims of sexual assault and harassment come in every ethnicity, gender, size, sexuality, and faith (or non faith for that matter). I challenge The Church (and all people) to stop shaming and blaming victims and thereby empowering the perverts and perpetrators.
God gave sexuality as a gift for marriage. It is special and wonderful. When it is attacked, assaulted, or abused, it strikes at the very core of someone’s identity -physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
Let’s be a place and people who provide safety, protection, healing, and empowerment to these fellow image bearers of our Creator God.