I read an amazing article in @washingtonpost yesterday. It’s title “Dear dads: Your daughters told me about their assaults. This is why they never told you.” caught my attention immediately. It’s rare that I stumble on an opinion or lifestyle piece that leaves me feeling introspective. This one left me broken.
If you haven’t read it, you need to. It’s incredibly moving. It’s personal for me, you see - just like it is for so many of us. Reading the stories that came pouring in to the author’s inbox took me back to my own painful past. Like them, my past isn’t something I talk about. It’s something that “was”. A secret I kept so that others would not be made accountable for the choices they’d surely be forced to make were I to come forward. A pain I bore so that others would remain free from the burden of my suffering.
I could hear the voices of these women (and men) in my mind as I read their stories, one by one. Then I thought of their tears. Their agony, and fear - all of those in the context of what’s happening right now. It made me angry. And sad. Then angry again. Extremely angry. .
For the past few weeks I’ve listened as people around me have debated the credibility of a woman who’d choose not to report an assault to authorities. And not just Dr. Ford. Any woman.
I’ve seen posts by men in my family, men who’ve been important parts of my life, men I have in the past considered friends and some I still do - repeating the rants of conservative TV hosts, raging against an imaginary liberal plot to bring down the righteous using phrases like “If it had happened they would have reported it” or “They owed it to the rest of us to report it”
I HAVE HAD ENOUGH.
I hate that I can tell you why a young girl would not come forward, why she carries this type of secret with her. I wish I didn’t know firsthand the damage it does to her, the ability it has to rip her to shreds - all so that she can protect everyone else in her life from feeling the pain, disappointment, and confusion that she’s felt every day since it happened.
And if you know me, if you know any survivor of sexual assault, there’s little chance you don’t already know the answer to those questions.
So, what are you thinking?
Why are you flinging insults out into this space - knowing some young, vulnerable girl is reading your words, and feeling less safe about coming forward and asking for help? .
How dare you claim righteousness while spewing venom upon these women you don’t know and are in no position to judge?
You don’t have to assume guilt or innocence based on an accusation, and as a human being you are also free to deliberate without hate and ignorance.
We are experiencing times of unbelievable partisan rhetoric and grandstanding on both sides. It is time to turn down the volume on your preferred set of talking heads for a day or two and come to your senses. Women survive the assaults of those who’ve preyed upon them only to fend off nastiness from the very people who are supposed to have their backs.
This isn’t a political issue it is a moral issue. It is an issue of creating a safe place for our children to tell us when they’re being harmed without fear of insult or retaliation. It is an issue of accountability and honesty, right and wrong. Of a human being’s right to have a say over what is done to his or her own body and another human being’s accountability for crossing that line, regardless of how big of a house he lives in.
Set an example for your children, because they are watching.