Speaking out

My head and heart have been distracted this past week. I have read countless articles and comments about Ghomeshi, victims of sexual crime and rape culture. I have tried to challenge and speak into what has seemed like a sad commentary on both what victims experience and people’s responses. In doing so, my story has been more public than I am used to. Yes…I write a blog and what I write is out there. But 100+ hits a day to one post is simply not what I am used to. Enough has been written on this topic and so I don’t want to say much at the moment.

But I would like to add to the discussion what speaking out is like…even for someone whose offender has been convicted.

Each time I tell a new person that I was sexually abused, I am worried that I will lose relationships. Speaking out has cost me my family and much more.

Each time I admit that I too was a victim, I worry my voice will be discounted since I am damaged … Or worse…that I am crazy as some have said.

Each time I mention the abuse by my stepfather, I wait in fear for the words of my grandmother that echo in my mind “I don’t believe you, but continue.”

Each time I tell my story, I worry what people think of me. I worry that people will consider me unfit for ministry. I worry that people will only see this side of me.

Each time I tell someone, I worry their niceness is them feeling sorry for me. I worry that silence means they don’t believe me.

I worry how this information would be used against me or used to hold me back.

This is after ten years of telling people. And the majority of them walking alongside me in the long and difficult journey towards healing and wholeness.

Dear world,
If you want more women to speak up and out, you need to know that we risk everything to do so. There is no glamour or rewards for doing so. Just shame, fear and pain. Respond tenderly. Even if you don’t believe our offenders did what we say. Even if you don’t know how to reconcile your good opinion of the person and the allegations. Choose silence over blind statements about our character. Refrain from judgment of us, just like you want to do with the offender.
Affirm our courage. Chances are, we are telling the truth and the cost of doing so is beyond what you could even begin to imagine. Affirm our pain. You do not need to know whether what we say is true in order to see that we are troubled by something.
Don’t give up on us. Whether you believe us or not, walk with us. We need you.
Respond tenderly. Affirm our courage and pain. Stick with us.
And together we will work towards a culture that does not permit sexual violence.

  1. john sullivan
    November 4, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Thank you for your courage Elizabeth!

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