Oh, I’m sorry, am I being a bit sinister? I can’t seem to get that old song tune out of my head “Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…” by T.R. Dallas. I mean, hearing yet another absurd news story about the leniency of a young man’s sentencing for being caught in the act of violating an unconscious woman near the dumpster and his father begging the judge to not allow this 20 minute mistake to ruin his life, accomplishing the said extreme lenient sentence of six months in jail and probation?!?!
I stood in my bathroom yesterday morning and stared at my reflection in the mirror willing the unclean words that wanted to come out of my mouth to stay put and dissolve with a grace that well surpasses my human ability.
The first sentence of the survivor’s [and no doubt this woman is a survivor and not a victim] letter to her attacker she let’s it be known in a powerful way how the first second of waking up from that ‘twenty minutes’ is like a lifetime sentence to a sexual assault survivor:
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”
She goes on to explain the feeling of waking up in a hospital, not knowing she was in a hospital, wearing a gown and for the first time realizing she had nothing else on but the gown:
“Everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling.”
The BUZZFEED article published this brave young survivor’s letter in full and it is not for me to retell what she so eloquently puts in her OWN VOICE… so please feel free to read her statement in the Buzzfeed article here.
However, what I do wish to address is how in the world did such an ‘accomplished’ Stanford bound young college athlete (apparently a swimmer with Olympic dreams) become so ignorant, heartless, self-serving and blatantly disrespectful?
According to the young survivor’s letter, in response to this young man’s very own statement to the court, he blames the entire incident on alcohol. Alcohol?? Well, he wasn’t too drunk because he remembered the incident, enough to change his story a few times.
But I can’t put into words any better than the survivor herself in response to this claim:
“Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.
According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.”
Just common sense, right? Whether or not you are drunk…it’s human decency. This young woman addresses the young man with a simple statement of what human decency might be, even in the worst of situations:
“I want to know, if those evil Swedes [his words] had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.”
Most of you who have been reading this blog over the past eight years know that I have two sons. One is headed into his senior year of high school and the other a sophomore. I got to this point of writing the blog and had to take them both to see the doctor for this horrendous cough they’ve been battling for two months. We got into the car and my mind wouldn’t stop racing. So I turned off the radio and let them know what was on my mind.
I explained what had happened to this woman, her letter to her attacker, his responses and excuses, and my response to all of it.
Both boys were shocked. “Mom, you’re preaching to the choir,” one son said. They were disgusted, didn’t want to hear anymore. And that made me realize even though Neal and I can do our best to drill into our boys respect and dignity of every human life, no matter the circumstance or situation, does it stick? Do we say enough? Do we do enough to convey this message?
I looked at both of my boys sitting on the exam table waiting to be examined and I saw before me two young men that are complete opposites in every way. In their physical attributes, their demeanor, their personality… yet they come from the same mother and father. I know that they have their own free will and will ultimately make their own decisions in life, that it’s their journey and all I can do is do my best to set them up for success but it’s up to them to take what we’ve given and run with it.
Who knows what kind of family this young man came from… maybe his momma did try to keep him from being a perpetrator. Maybe society leaked in other factors that led him to the deterioration of his common sense and decency. Maybe he was viewing too much hard core porn that is becoming more and more popular in our society, further abusing the ‘actresses’ by forcing them into rape situations and other demeaning role plays in order to feed the demand that no longer gets off on simple sensuality. Or maybe it isn’t so much the family as the entire society as a whole for allowing ‘rape’ to become a common place adjective rather than a horrid, unthinkable act.
Has society, in general, become so desensitized to the various acts of sexual assault that they (I say ‘they’ because I will not put myself into this general population) associate it with every day behaviors? In her own words the survivor eloquently states what this ’20 minute sexual assault’ does to both parties:
“Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.
On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.”
Click HERE to read the entire letter.
Once again, my hats off to this young woman. She is my hero. And along with her those two EXTRAORDINARY Swedish men who simply did what I’d like to think we are ALL programmed to do – HELP ONE ANOTHER.
Click here to read their story.
Hopeful Hearts Ministry is booming and I don’t like it. Why? Because I want it to be that we survivors have spoken SO LOUD that there is no more of this ‘culture of rape’ or ‘ignorance to abuse’ in our society. One day, it is my dream to see that Hopeful Hearts Ministry has to shut every door down because there is no more need.
Until then we are realizing this overwhelming need to clone ourselves… thrivers are desiring to pay forward what they’ve learned and to peer counsel other survivors to a place of thriving. Locations all over Texas, California, Washington State, Louisiana, and even across the seas in Sydney, Australia are asking ‘How can we implement a Hopeful Hearts Ministry in our area?’
I’m working on it…with God’s GRACE I’ll get there. But in the meantime, do as this young woman and SPEAK ABOUT IT.
Momma’s talk to your sons. Let them know what this story does to your heart. By doing so you might prevent a future sexual assault from taking place.