"Every guy sees you naked when he looks at you."
"All any guy thinks when he first meets you is that he wants to have sex with you."
"Any guy who tells you he hasn't imagined banging you is a liar."
In a world where being vulnerable by being naked is praised, sex sells, and casual hook-ups have been normalized, the previous quotes have somehow found a way to haunt me. They are real statements made by real men who were having conversations with me. These statements have caused more pain and fear than any person should have to endure. They have echoed repeatedly in my mind daily and instantaneously whenever I meet someone who shows interest in me. This is the real world that we live in, and harassment takes many forms here. Abuse can sometimes undermine statements like those above because we'll think at least they are words which aren't as bad as the physical. This beckons me to ask, why is it truth is so perverted?
This last year, there have been numerous allegations of sexual harassment, misconduct, and rape. Each testimony of the victims bear similarities when recounting their horrific experiences. Ironically, the media parades these stories as if they are "good news". The thing grabbing the attention of viewers. The thing that keeps people in disgust yet intrigued. "Did he really do it?" They ask themselves. "Well I'm glad my husband/boyfriend/significant other/brother isn't as messed up as he is." -- I hear these blanket statements, I see these offenders, and I'm so broken by it.
"I was sexually abused." - should be a statement which shocks us, but as for the 1 in 6 people who are reading this, "me too" followed more naturally than shock.
My intent here isn't to draw attention to my case, but to hopefully be the "me too" that doesn't just leave someone hanging in their pain. There's so much pain out there that the stories of most victims can feel like they become a grain of sand in a sandbox full of hurting. You deserve to have redemption for your story. Not to just know you're not alone, but to actually find hope and a remedy for this plague our world has fallen victim to when it comes to sexual perversion.
How do you find redemption in something so hopeless? How do you gain back something stolen from you that isn't replaceable? How do you return innocence and purity to a damaged and tainted heart? First dear ones, you must learn to silence every lie and listen only to truth.
The truth is redemption isn't an apology. After I was sexually abused the second time, I actually had the opportunity to confront my offender. When I did, he replied with an honest apology stating he was sorry. In that moment I became so angry. Sorry? How could he understand or even measure what he had done to be sorry enough? There's a dirtiness you feel and it's something you can't wash off with "sorry." Still, before I had encountered him again I longed for him to say those words. In my mind, that was going to be the key for me to feel better. After I got my apology I almost felt emptier than before. He was able to walk away with the peace of mind that comes with shame well received; but, when I walked away I gained nothing accept the word "sorry" to go along with an experience I never wished for.
The truth is redemption isn't replacing damaged goods with brand new ones. I remember after being assaulted, thinking two vastly different thoughts, both of which confused me. On one side of things, I wanted to live shut off from everything that was in any way sexual. I wanted to avoid contact with people (especially men). On the other hand, I wanted to move on. There was a strong desire to be with someone else to replace that terrifying experience with a different memory, something I chose to do; something I had control over. Both ways were desperate pleas for what I reconciled as redemption. I was trying to replace what I had endured with something else. In both scenarios I was 'victim' and I wanted to change my identity. But what do people who aren't 'victim' identify as? In the world we live in I came to the conclusion that people who aren't sexually assaulted commonly refer to themselves as 'virgins', 'abstinent' or 'sexually active'. People don't typically see your sexual activity, but it's common to have the conversations with three types of people: Drs., partners, or best friends. For 'victims' talking about their experience isn't something that comes natural with any of these people. This is because you know that nothing any of these people say will change the circumstances. This leaves you feeling alone and keeps you at 'victim'.
So what did I do? How have I learned to move forward?? It's a process. So far, I've learned to silence the lies when they creep in. Even though redemption wasn't the apology, I found redemption and more when I found forgiveness for my offenders. I found immeasurable strength in overcoming the fear that they were bigger than me when I realized that my value as a person couldn't be taken by something someone else did to me. They couldn't steal my purpose or my passion. I didn't need to replace my damage, instead I needed to rejoice in the midst of it. I needed to see that my damage isn't the same as a broken vase, mirror, or ornament because those thing were created as inanimate fragile objects. I was never an object (even if they saw me as one) I am a living person, someone who can heal when wounded, hurt, or damaged and I was created strong enough to do so. I am not a 'victim' I am a survivor, an overcomer, and achiever.
Some days are hard. I'd be lying if I said life simply moves on. There are times I've made dumb decisions and allowed my experience to be my excuse. Fear has also played a huge part in my life at times and caused me to feel crippled. It's in those places I have found that when I focus on who God made me to be, and how he see's me that I can make it through.
To the guys who make statements like the one's at the top of this blog. STOP. If you struggle with seeing women as objects, or feel bold enough to be 'honest' in a way where you sexualize women (which is demeaning by the way), get help! My purity, sex life, and intimacy isn't for just anyone and everyone. I don't give it out freely, and though it's been taken, abused and misused, my integrity has remained in tact and my value is still priceless. So is every other single person's out there. Yes, it is a two way street. Ladies we need to be accountable with how we treat men. We must all see the value people bring to life and respect them for who they are, not what we feel entitled to receive from them. Especially when that entitlement surrounds sex.