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Me Too

by Taylor Carnes 4 years ago in activism

The Heartbreaking Reality

I'm encouraged and deeply saddened by the trending, "me too" on social media. I'm encouraged because victims spoke out in an unusual setting but the point is, they spoke out. I cannot stress enough the importance of breaking the silence but it doesn't end with breaking the silence. I'm going to share a little part of my story that I hope helps you see why breaking the silence is so important but going beyond that as well is vital to ending the problem.

The person who did such vile things to me (if that makes you uncomfortable, that's okay. We're trying to make this easier to talk about, to hear, and to help someone) still runs free. He runs free because of silence.

He runs free because I never spoke up, I never told anyone til' it was too late. I constantly think about when it happened and when I felt compelled to tell someone, I didn't.

But why?

I was six when it happened. I was eight when I thought I should tell someone. I was eight. And I didn't want to speak up. So much shame was already felt with it at eight-years-old. I remember thinking it wasn't a big enough deal, that others were going through much worse.

I was assaulted and I didn't think it was a big enough deal to tell someone about it. Every single time I felt the weight of what happened, I brushed it off. I got so good at that, that sometimes I thought I "forgot" it happened at all. In fact, I had done this so well that by the time I started speaking up, some of what happened was blurry and I couldn't remember everything.

I told someone when I was 16-years-old. Ten years of silence. Ten years of brushing it off. Ten years of pretending nothing happened.

So when I did speak up, it really was too late. Here's what I mean: no evidence.

Nothing besides my word against his. I read through my state laws on the subject and I tried. I tried so hard but nothing happened.

And it is painful knowing the person who committed such repulsive acts against you gets to roam free. It is painful wondering if they feel any remorse for what they did, wondering if it happened to anyone else, and questioning if that is your fault.

Let me go ahead and destroy this notion: it is not my fault (or yours) and it will never be my fault. Someone stricken in sin chose to take advantage of me. If he chose to do it again, that is his fault. It is not mine and it never ever will be.

BUT

it is my responsibility to break the silence. It should not be taboo. It should not be shameful to talk about. It should be something we readily embrace with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. It is darkness we should find great joy in bringing to the Light.

Unfortunately, I've heard young kids not be taken seriously by adults when they speak out of character or talk about things they should know nothing about.

I've seen signs young kids display being completely ignored. Maybe it's because people don't want to think the unthinkable or they don't want to believe it happened. But what good does that do?

It aids the problem. Victims remain silent and abusers continue to abuse.

I've heard people be shamed for talking about their family member that way or to even suggest they could commit such vile acts.

I know. You don't want to believe it. I don't want to believe someone took advantage of me. I'm sure they don't either but it happened. it really did and whoever did it was capable of doing something so terrible because they did.

When victims speak up, don't you dare be in denial. It takes courage and strength to speak up. It's hard. Oh my goodness, it's so hard. It makes it ten times harder when someone looks at them and denies what they know happened to them.

When we act like this to people who tell us their story, we are becoming an aid in this culture of shame.

So let's go a step further.

Of course I can't guarantee this but this is a pretty educated guess, okay?

More abusers might be caught if so much shame didn't surround the victim. Shouldn't shame fall to the abuser for what they've done?

That answer should be a resounding YES.

But way too often, it doesn't.

It's heartbreaking to think about how many cases go unreported or even if they are, how little to nothing happens in the majority of them.

Not Just A Statistic

Here's something else. Check out this case from Italy in 1992. The girl won her case and the case went to the Italian higher court and it was overturned. The man was no longer convicted of raping his driving student because of her jeans.

This comes straight from a RAINN.org which is an excellent resource to educate yourself and/or get help.

Taking a look at WHY people choose/don't choose to report may be beneficial in knowing what to do to prevent this in the future.

Reasons Victims Choose Not to Report

Of the sexual violence crimes reported to police from 2005-2010, the survivor reporting gave the following reasons for doing so:

  • 28 percent to protect the household or victim from further crimes by the offender.
  • 25 percent to stop the incident or prevent recurrence or escalation.
  • 21 percent to improve police surveillance or they believed they had a duty to do so.
  • 17 percent to catch/punish/prevent offender from reoffending.
  • 6 percent gave a different answer, or declined to cite one reason.
  • 3 percent did so to get help or recover loss.

Of the sexual violence crimes not reported to police from 2005-2010, the victim gave the following reasons for not reporting:

  • 20 percent feared retaliation.
  • 13 percent believed the police would not do anything to help.
  • 13 percent believed it was a personal matter.
  • 8 percent reported to a different official.
  • 8 percent believed it was not important enough to report.
  • 7 percent did not want to get the perpetrator in trouble.
  • 2 percent believed the police could not do anything to help.
  • 30 percent gave another reason, or did not cite one reason.

You can read more about this on RAINN.org

Victims remain silent for all kinds of different reasons and it will continue unless something changes. We have to go beyond breaking the silence. It has to be reported, an effort has to be made but victims/survivors don't even feel safe in doing so. So we have to do something.

The top known reason it's unreported is retaliation. (If you've read my first blog post, I mentioned being frightened that person would retaliate.) They were capable of such vile things in the first place, they could be capable of it again.

For the most part, these people when they are reported are NOT arrested. Cases that go lengths of time unreported have a less likely chance of seeing victory. There is no evidence. It is simply our word against their word.

But these cases are time sensitive which is why we have to help people feel comfortable to report it pretty quickly when it happens. The problem ends when victims are able to speak out.

So what do we do?

How do we make survivors/victims feel comfortable enough and safe enough to report it? to speak out?

Honestly, I don't know, because every case is different. Every person has a story. But I've been studying and learning intentionally about this for the last three and a half years now so here are a few things I've learned:

If someone ever confides this in you, you believe them. [1 Corinthians 13:7]

You comfort and support them. [Romans 12:15]

Pray for and with them. You don't know what to say? It's okay. Just pray.

LISTEN. You don't have to know what to say, just listen. It goes along way to be heard.

Make it known that it matters. (I always believed it wasn't a big enough deal. Don't let anyone walk away from you while still thinking that.)

What are other ways you think we can help victims/survivors speak out?

Seriously, I'm all ears because we have to do something.

Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

activism

Taylor Carnes

Read next: The Escape to Find Happiness Part 1

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