I can't speak for all victims of sexual assault but I am certain I am speaking up for some because I have talked to many. If you don't think you know anyone that has been a victim it is likely because she hasn't trusted you enough to tell you about it.
This post applies to both those who have dismissed Trump's actions as no big deal AND those who choose to remain silent about it. This is not a time for silence.
When I was somewhere in the early middle school years a cousin and I were visiting a great uncle's home with my mom. My grandmother was there along with my great aunt. At some point during our visit my once harmless appearing great uncle managed to get both my cousin and I to kiss him. It was presented as a "come on over here and give me a hug and kiss" kind of offer. Harmless seeming because he had always been harmless seeming.
It wasn't harmless.
He grabbed us both by the shoulders and tongue kissed us. We both were instantly shocked, and stunned. My cousin apologized because she went first and didn't tell me what I was in for. After literally visiting the bathroom to wash our mouths with toothpaste we did what everyone tells children to do, we told my mom and grandma.
Their verbal response: "That's just how he is. Don't tell your grandpa, it will make him mad". That was the end of it and ultimately how every sexual assault I endured was handled.
Their non-verbal response: "A man's feelings are more important that yours. Ignore what your gut is telling you. Your body or heart is not valuable to me. Peace is worth any personal cost to you. You are not loved or valued by us. A man can do whatever he wants. It's not a big deal. This is just how men are. "
Gosh. It still stings me to write that out. I can't even believe how painful it still is. But you know what? I had forgotten about it. I had dealt with it and stored it away. Until a few days ago.
A few days ago it was all brought to the surface again. Fear rose up again and for a time I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It didn't take me long to figure it out.
With every friend, male or female, that dismissed or excused Trump's claims and bragging of sexual assault, those same non-verbal feelings resurfaced.
Over the last few days I have seen people I love say horrible things and I am deeply hurt by them. Not just for me but for the people in their circle that I know will read them and feel the same. This is the definition of revictimization.
Some common reactions I have seen: "That's just how men talk", "grow up", "don't be so holier than thou", "it's not a big deal, everyone talks that way", "it's just locker room talk", "women talk that way" "let he without sin throw the first stone" "lots of women read 50 Shades of Grey" "it was eleven years ago".
Those are the verbal messages Christians are sending us.
Here are the non-verbal messages we are getting: "you aren't safe with me", "I won't stand up for what is right", "my political party is more important than you", "I don't have very high standards for the men in my life", "I'll allow a man to say what he wants because "that is just how he is"", "I don't have very high standards for my friends", "I don't care about you" "you were asking for it".
I don't care if you think I am being overly sensitive. I don't care if you can't understand why it's a big deal. The messages being sent to victims of sexual assault are being heard loud and clear. It's what created Brock Turner and his a$$ of a dad who said that his life shouldn't be ruined over 20 minutes of action (on an unconscious woman!). Why shouldn't his life be ruined, I can promise hers was?
"That's just how men talk". That's an indication of low standards. And also not true. That may be how creepy and trashy men talk. In some cases people saying that has confirmed that creepy feeling I got around them, so thanks for that I guess. Ephesians 4:29 says we are called to watch the way we talk. We are not called to excuse it. Men who know better do better. To say that is how men talk is disrespectful to the good men out there who don't talk that way.
Let me be clear, the good men and women I KNOW do not speak that way. It is not acceptable because some chose to call it normal. It is vile and despicable and there is no justification for it that will pass.
It's not locker room talk. He wasn't in a locker room. He was with people he barely knew yet still felt comfortable enough to brag about the CRIMINAL act of sexual assault. He gave a pitiful apology while dismissing it as "locker room talk" and shifting blame to someone else. The latter a common tactic my children try, I don't let them get away with it either. It may have been eleven years ago but nothing in his recent past aligns with a change of heart, in fact it gives proof that he is still the same man.
The 50 Shade of Grey argument? Baffling. One is a work of fiction that a woman may choose to read. I did not but I stand behind the right to do so. The other is an actual real live man saying that he can touch women if he wants because he is a "superstar". That's an actual, real live crime. The 50 shades argument is a modern version of "she had it coming". One person's actions do not excuse another person's actions. Again, the latter is a common tactic my children try, I don't let them get away with it either.
I don't have time or energy to go through all of the lame excuses given for his behavior. I just wanted to give a glimpse into how dismissing them or being silent about them is being received by actual victims of the crime of sexual assault. You are sending a message.
The results for me personally of the dismissal and silence? I've circled my wagons in pretty close. I've had to sort the men in my life into "safe" and "not safe" based on their own words. I've had to revisit old wounds and not just the story mentioned above, sadly I have several to work through, again. I'm shaky on trust.
I can promise you, there are women (and probably men) in your life listening to you. You get to decide what verbal and non-verbal messages they get from you. A lot of us have worked very hard to get to a place of knowing we are loved and valuable. You get to help us confirm that or make us work harder.