“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”
― Judith Lewis Herman,
I hate jumping on a bandwagon. I am typically too rebellious for that, plus my attitude behind the #MeToo hype has been: My story is in print for the world to read. Why must I say more?
Well, for one, not everyone has read The Chance to Choose, and, secondly, I want to come alongside my fellow Americans while we finally wake up to sexual assault.
But what seems a bit unique to my #MeToo story is that, ironically, because the assault happened on the other side of the world, a severe verdict was served to my perpetrator. I find that interesting, and alarming. I sit here thirty years after the fact, dumbstruck, yet grateful, because my assault didn’t occur on American soil.
Proper action was taken.
There is a lot of wrong in that scenario, which fuels my choice to add to the multitude of #MeToo stories. For all these years, I have felt that my attacker was handed a strong sentence during a trial that I didn’t even attend. He lost his livelihood, and was forced to abandon the only home he’d ever known to begin over somewhere else.
For those who have never read my #MeToo story, here’s a brief excerpt from The Chance to Choose. There’s are so many more pages to this nightmare, but you’ll get the idea:
While we walked, eating curried chicken on a stick, Doctor reminded me of my father when he insisted that I stay closer to the shops and away from rickshaws, endlessly honking, and careening pell-mell in every direction. He must be the same age as Dad, I thought. Such a gentleman, too. I feel so cared for and can’t believe I questioned the intention of this trip.
“I’ve arranged for us to meet with the director again for dinner, but this time at a restaurant right here in the city. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it! But first, I need to get something from the hotel; it’s just around the corner,” Doctor said while carefully guiding me across the busy street.
The hotel lobby was ravishing, detailed with a mural on the ceiling tracing Indian history from King Kanishka time to the present.
“I must go up to my room to get something. You may come.”
“That’s okay, I’ll just wait here,” I answered as I gazed distracted by the ceiling and the massive beautiful lobby in wonder–everything exquisitely Indian. I was lost in the culture, but I also wanted to find a bathroom. There had to be a good one in this place and I was beginning to feel funny. Was it something I ate?
“Well, I didn’t realize that we are not scheduled to meet the director and his wife for another hour. Why don’t you come up to the room and we can have a drink while we wait.”
I know what you’re thinking.
Up in the fancy elevator I went. Fifteen floors up the tallest hotel in New Delhi. Not a single person knew where I was.
For the sake of the current headline around sexual assault, I’d like to touch on three important points found within this brief excerpt:
- I was young and trusted my superior as a father figure.
- I was lost in the culture.
- I wasn’t thinking.
Yes, it is indeed time we woke up, America. All of us, even those harassed, abused, and assaulted! I say that not to place blame on victims of assault-male and female alike. I urge the need for an awakening because sometimes we have no business being in places we choose to go. Granted, we don’t always have the chance to choose. Many are assaulted innocently walking down the street. But where we have the chance to choose wisdom, we must choose it!
- We must discern, and honestly assess our superiors. Not all are to be trusted.
- We must fight against our sexual culture. Keep our eyes wide open and, as women, hold ourselves accountable to our feminine influence and appeal.
- We must engage our mind toward the battle. Call me old fashioned, but, again, as a woman, I don’t believe I should ever be in a hotel room, or any other private location, with another male, without awareness of the potential fallout.
I feel really passionate about making something very clear here. As a teenager, and young adult woman, I made choices that put me in compromising situations. That doesn’t give any male the right to take advantage of me, but these were encounters that I was fully aware of the potential outcome, yet chose the rendezvous anyway.
But when I say #MeToo I am not referring to those, and this is what America must wake up to. I am willing to stand by my fellow #MeToo tribe and say:
We know the difference between making a regrettable choice and an assault.
We know the difference between a foolish crush and stalking.
We know the difference between a lack of judgment and rape.
Our Lord knows the difference too. So, how does God feel about sexual assault?
Well, the three biblical accounts that I’m thinking of, describing a woman who was sexually assaulted, each precipitate a civil war! One of those accounts is Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. She was violated by the son of a neighboring ruler, Shechem, and her brothers murdered him, his father, and all of the men of his city (Gen 34). That makes losing your career and being kicked out of your hometown tame!
Rape was never covered up in biblical accounts, so I choose not to cover up that attempt upon me either.
But I don’t want to end there.
Ending there is why I hesitated to jump on the social bandwagon. No, stalling this post wasn’t my rebellious nature toward “trend”, my delay lies in the fact that I have been liberated. In adding to the #MeToo conversation I am not coming out as a victim.
I am adding my voice to thousands of other men and women who have moved into empowerment, and hold firmly to the gift of choice. I don’t want a simple hashtag to blot out what the Lord has done in my life. He has given me wisdom. He has lavished upon me discernment, and the power to decide a healthy encounter, versus unhealthy.
I can honestly say that since I have put my faith and hope in Jesus Christ, and have daily decided to choose His way, I have not experienced any form of harassment, abuse, or assault that haunted so much of my teenage and young adult years. This is surely God’s grace, but I’d like to also attribute this to one pretty significant choice on my part.
For thirty years, the only men I have been alone in a room with are my father, two brothers, two sons, and my dear husband. That’s been my choice.
To my fellow #MeToo victims: I am truly sorry for your pain and suffering. If we were to sit face to face I would want to know your story and understand your heart. Maybe someday we can. But until then, know there is comfort in Jesus. We are liberated by His wounds. May you find complete healing and future empowerment through His grace.