Let’s Invite Change

There are several places in the Bible where we are admonished to not be conformed to this world.  My favorite is James 1:27…”and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  What better way can we do this but to be willing to change our attitudes when they are not in alignment with the righteous judgement of the SV offender and compassion for survivors?  Offenders need a lot of help too but that is fodder for another time.

In the Ms. Magazine article “Rape is Rape” (refer to 8/2/11 blog) Stephanie Hallett quotes from Joanne Archambault.  She is a sexual-assault invention expert and founded the End Violence Against Women International.  Joanne is emphatic about the FBI’s 82 year old Uniform Crime Report and its, to say the least, archaic definition of rape.  Joanne says that this definition  feeds into social stereotypes and therefore has a huge impact on reporting.  She is so right.  She says, “when they’re first assaulted…[rape survivors] aren’t thinking of law enforcement; they are thinking of safety. They go their friends, loved ones, family first.”  I cannot emphasize how true this is.  Those who think it should be otherwise, forget it.  She has just had a brush with death and her very physical survival is a miracle.  It is now her emotional psychological survival that is in jeopardy.  Why in the world would anyone in their right mind think she should even have a thought at that time about whether or not to report is beyond me.  Then, given the uninformed, uneducated attitudes of many communities and law enforcement agencies, what would make her feel safe to report?  I want to emphasize here the word safety. For quite awhile, maybe a lifetime without some help, she is not going to feel safe.  I would propose that safety and the shame from the incident itself as well as community judgements and attitudes are the key reasons for the non-reporting problem, for women yes, and even more for men.  My local police force, and this was 29 years ago, was safe, with the exception of one officer who dropped by a week or so after the report and asked me several inappropriate questions.  If I could do it over again, I would have told him to leave and reported him.  I was also fortunate to receive a gift of God…I had no, absolutely no shame and absolutely knew it was not my fault.  I assure you I now know I was given a special gift from God, as this is rare.  I have never been silent; shame, lack of safety, and lies keep survivors silent.

I invite you all to examine what your own thoughts, feeling, reactions, judgements are about anyone who has admitted they are a survivor.  Have you walked in their shoes?  How have you treated (or gossiped) about such people?  How can you possibly know the damage done to their brain, heart, and soul?  To their families and marriages?  Are you grateful if this has never happened to you or do believe it hasn’t because of some innate goodness in you so you could never be in such danger.  The ‘it could never happen to me syndrome’ is common.

I implore you both individually as well as faith communities to be different than the rest of our community.  Let us be leaders of attitude and thinking changes.  Let us be leaders in inviting survivors to get on their own unique Recovery Road to healing.

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