I do not watch politics. In fact, I even put my fingers in my ears before I bury my head in the sand. Like any good ostrich, I hope to avoid the circumstances in which I am standing. However, despite my attempts to ignore the news of the day, there are times the volume gets so loud it is impossible to drown it out even with my self-imposed, sanity-saving technique. There are days where my social media feed informs me of the current events so loudly, I must pull my head out of the ground and listen, however briefly.
I can tell when this happens because my newsfeed is overflowing with voices, from both sides, who are foaming at the mouth. They spew out rabid words as if stricken by some unseen disease that eats away their capacity to think clearly or speak with intelligence. In these instances, God’s name is thrown about and what is most alarming, is how both sides are convinced he is with them, when indeed nothing could be further from the truth.
My heart breaks for him, as he watches his children tear one another to shreds in his name, believing he would pick one and condemn the other. It proves how far we are from understanding his nature, and I feel his tears of frustration that we still do not get him…AT ALL. Even after he sent his son to show us his heart, we still do not understand. He is unconditional love…the opposite of ours. He is truth. He is light, and in him there is no darkness. He is bigger than two sided arguments. Jesus showed us how to uplift, not tear down. How to accept, rather than condemn. How to identify heartache to bring healing, instead of ripping apart. Nothing could be any less Christ like than my newsfeed, filled with my friends’ words which butcher one another.
This week it is the Supreme Court confirmation hearings which have uncovered deep wounds in our nation. I have found the deeper the wound, the louder the cries. This is because anger merely masks the depth of the pain. As each side tries to discredit the other, the shouting is getting louder, but this is about more than a seat on the Supreme Court. It is far bigger than a lifetime. It is the fight for mutual respect, which underlies most every major conflict we face internally as a country. It is the fight to be heard and the desire to be understood.
Dr. Ford has a legitimate need to tell her story. Whether you believe her or not, she has to speak what has been hidden away inside of her for years. Sexual assault is serious. Victims are more numerous than we will ever know, and for one woman to dare to speak out in such a public way validates and shines a spotlight on the issue as a whole, not just the one instance. Light in the darkness…and while we shield our eyes so they can adjust to the brightness, it hurts for a moment, until they adjust. Then we can see all that was previously unseen. All the corners. All the hidden places where dirt can gather. All the filth. It will take all of us working together to clean this place up.
It is a remarkable thing Dr. Ford has done, because sexual assault victims are told by their perpetrators, “If you tell, no one will believe you.” So instead of speaking, victims go silent. They bury things internally. They slam the doors of their hearts and say, “never again,” which leads to difficulty of forming intimate relationships in the future, even friendships. And if it was as easy as locking our hearts up tight, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today. Silence eats away the heart, and it either hardens or it crumbles. Victims get stuck. Trauma haunts them. Without the help of a counselor, it is impossible to move forward in life. Even with help, it is difficult to get past a violation that takes swipes at the core of who you are. Their identity is wrapped up in the tendrils of being an object rather than a person. It seems unlikely the bonds will ever be cut away, and so victims learn to live with them. It is like walking with chains, limiting their freedom just to be who they are without the internal stigma of being damaged goods. They limp.
Victims remember the words spoken in moments of terror, or disgust.
They say, “Stop it!”
Their perpetrator says, “Stop, what? I am not doing anything.”
The younger the victim, the more confusing it is. Self-doubt springs up. Wondering if they are crazy, or if they imagined the whole thing. Or maybe it wasn’t as bad as they remember, and it if was, shouldn’t it be ‘no big deal’? The turmoil internally makes a victim feel as if they are the ones who are crazy. Especially if the violator is someone they know and trust.
“You are such a cry baby.” If they tell, that will be true. A snitch, a cry baby, an emotional over reaction. Again, the victim is put in the position of being ‘less than’ and flawed.
“It’s your own fault.” Somehow in this twisted psychological game, the victim feels guilty until proven innocent. Yet, the gut knows something isn’t right about that. There is constant cognitive dissonance, which cannot be resolved and so it buries itself deep.
“No one will believe you.” That statement alone, shows the perpetrator knows what happened is wrong. Otherwise, why would he have to whisper in the victim’s ear ‘don’t tell’? Tapes play in the mind of the victim of all the women who have come forward, like Dr. Ford and many others. The psychological violence which bombards women who speak up is enough to keep other victims silent. Who would want to be put through the emotional trauma of exposure after working so hard for freedom in private? Yet to get true freedom, the victim needs to know her perpetrator will not be in a position to repeat the deed. She feels responsible for other women who might cross his path if she doesn’t stand up and speak. It is her obligation to protect her sisters from trauma. What if her daughter were to be in this situation? Or her mother? She cannot rest knowing she could possibly do something to avoid it.
When the perpetrator is a man of power, all of these thoughts are heightened x 10. It is not a one-on-one situation at that point, it is taking on a whole system. Pastors, congressmen, bosses, important men of all backgrounds can use positions of trust against women, knowing they have the advantage because the machine they work for will back them. Courts will back them. Lawyers will back them. Even the public will back them. It has proven out in the public square for decades. We are just now beginning to see ears open…a tiny little bit.
I feel sure Dr. Ford knows how many years it has been since the incident in question. I am sure she would like to “forget” or “not dredge up ancient history.” But for her, it is not ancient. She carries it with her and it has become a part of who she is, like it or not. She may be a pawn used by the political machine in a game, but she is a brave pawn. The vote will go the way the vote will go. Life will move on, and things will settle down one way or the other. Probably not for her though. Now, she is marked with a scarlet letter. But what she did for victims of sexual assault is to acknowledge their pain. To validate their wounds. To speak for the millions who remain silent, that this is not okay. Even in childhood immaturity, assault is wrong. Period. For that, I applaud her.
Because of my self-imposed news ban I do not know the whole story of either side on this one. Sexual assault is a serious charge no matter what the age or circumstances. Women need to have their voices heard. On the other hand, false accusations can damage a man and his career in short order. I have worked with men in an elementary school setting who fear being falsely accused by a student of inappropriate behavior. They go above and beyond to insure they are never alone with a student and are careful of how they speak to them etc… These men know that one word could ruin their career, even if it is proven untrue, it will not matter because the seed of suspicion will have been planted and trust will be broken. I have read there is no evidence on Judge Kavanaugh which can be corroborated, if that is true and he is truly innocent this whole circus will mean his doom. I have a husband and 3 sons, and I shudder to think of any one making up a story that would ruin them. I also have a daughter who I would encourage to speak up, should she ever have a reason to stand. There are two sides to every story.
So, who is telling the truth, and who is the liar in this one? Both have sworn to tell the truth. Is it possible they are both telling their own version of the truth? Can either be incriminated beyond a reasonable doubt? I fear that both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford are being used by the political system for its purposes and agendas. I doubt when they are left in the wake of this fiasco, any one from either party will hang around too long.
If we have learned one thing from this experience, it is to teach our children that consequences of their behavior, now…especially on social media…will follow them always. Wisdom is needed now more than ever. We need healing and to build one another up instead of tearing each other down. Rather than using God as a weapon, we need to get to know his heart. If we do, we will find he is for us ALL.