Stop Victim Blaming

 

sexual-abuse, Roy-Moore, victim-blaming

 

I was 14 that summer. I’d taken my two best friends to church camp with me. This wasn’t your regular teen church camp. In fact, it wasn’t a teen camp at all. It was a week-long, fundamentalist camp meeting for all ages. The camp consisted of hours and hours of preaching, all day and evening, with breaks for lunch and dinner. This was the same camp at which a hell-fire and brimstone preacher stood at the edge of the pew where my friends and I were sitting and raged about young girls wearing too much makeup and lipstick. How I convinced my friends that the camp would be fun and they should go is beyond me.

My dad left us there for the week, assured that we were in good hands and wouldn’t be able to leave campus. My friends and I quickly met some other teens from New Jersey. Of course, there were boys in the group, and we were boy crazy. However, one of the boys wasn’t just a boy; he was a 26-year-old man. Still, he acted like one of us, so we all spent our days and evenings hanging out and flirting.

One afternoon, though, the man suggested that we all leave that evening and ride to the mall. He, of course, would be the driver. We made our plans to sneak away from campus, which we’d been instructed not to do. However, before we could follow through on our plan, someone on staff figured out what we were up to, and thwarted our evening escapade.

On the final day of camp, the 26-year-old gave me a note telling me how pretty I was. I don’t remember what else the note said. I probably still have it packed away in a box with all my teen paraphernalia. I’d forgotten about the entire incident until yesterday.

News broke yesterday that a woman accused Roy Moore, the Republican running for Alabama’s Senate seat, of pedophilia. She stated that 37 years ago, when she was 14 and Moore was in his early thirties, he initiated a sexual encounter with her. Of course, he denied the allegations, and there is much hullabaloo surrounding the story now. Some are calling it fake news, and others are claiming that it can’t possibly be true since the woman waited so long to come forward. Others are saying that if it did happen, it was consensual, so it’s not a big deal. Moore’s lawyer even went so far as to cite the Biblical characters, Mary and Joseph, as justification for pedophilia.

When I was 14, I was naive, just as most young, teenage girls are. I was flattered that a 26-year-old man thought I was pretty. I was willing to get in the car with him (though I barely knew him) and trust that we would go to the mall as he’d said. As an adult looking back at that situation, I am horrified at what could have happened if my friends and I had managed to sneak away with that man.

I have teenage daughters, ages 17, 15 and 13, and let me assure you that if a 26-year-old man wrote one of them a note telling them how pretty they are, there would probably be hell to pay. It is not okay for an adult to flirt with, seduce, or touch a teenager. It is not okay. There is no justification for it.

When a woman comes forward with a story that happened to her decades before, we don’t get to pretend she’s not telling the truth. We don’t get to make justifications for her predator.

When you’re 14, you might not even realize what is happening to you is wrong and illegal. You might even think you’re consenting in some situations. You might not think it’s a big deal until you’re an adult looking back on the situation. So, no, we, the public, do not get to deny a woman’s story of pedophilia or sexual assault or any other story in which she was the victim.

For the love of all young girls, can we please stop the victim blaming? Can we please stop sexualizing young girls and pretending their capable of consenting? Can we please stop making excuses for men who prey on naive children? Can we please stop invoking the name of God and using the Bible to justify abusers’ behavior? Please?

 

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Comments

  1. This is so good, and often memories come later as they surface to the mind. We do not have the right to judge, we all have similar stories if we truly remember.

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