Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Here’s another huge counseling issue. Yesterday’s prompt, assumption, took me to marriage counseling. Today, this word takes me to the ugly realm of abuse.
I understand why victims of abuse feel guilt. At least, I think I do.
The woman whose husband beats her for no discernible reason accepts the burden of guilt for his abuse. “I just need to be more careful,” she’ll say. “It’s my own fault. I aggravate him, and I need to try harder.”
Wrong at every level, but it’s nearly impossible to convince her that she is NOT guilty. Only when she “gets it” that he doesn’t beat up anyone else will she begin to question his right to knock her around whenever he feels the need of a punching bag. He can control himself at work or anywhere else but all his anger and aggression gets unleashed on her.
She is not the guilty one.
Victims of sexual abuse often feel guilty. “I must have done something to make him/her think it was okay,” or “Well, I shouldn’t have been wearing shorts” (when I was three or four!) or “I was flirtatious” (when I was too young to know what that meant).
Unreasonable guilt. Sexual predators do what they do because they can. So, so many times I have told a suffering adult, molested as a child, “You are not defiled by what someone does to you against your will. You are NOT impure. The offender is. What he did is a felony! You are not to blame. No matter what a demented society may say or think, a predator ALWAYS has the choice NOT to sexually assault or abuse someone else.”
It makes me crazy when a woman who was raped becomes the guilty person in the eyes of so many people. “How was she dressed? Was her skirt too short, her pants too tight, her top too low? Where was she? Why was she alone? She was probably asking for it. She probably enjoyed it.”
Good grief. Rape is a crime of power, not lust. It is a violent assault, and it makes a woman into nothing but a piece of meat. Rape has been perpetrated on NUNS, who are totally modestly clothed and, I promise you, were not “asking for it” nor “enjoying it.”
It shocks me, every single time and even though I’ve lived long enough to know better, that when a woman is raped, she has to endure the torture of being put on the witness stand and being exposed in her most personal, private life if she dares to report the crime and bring the predator to justice.
And please don’t give the tired old argument that sometimes women lie and accuse innocent men. Yes, that does–rarely–happen, and it’s appalling. The topic here, though is not the innocent man who is accused; it is the innocent girl or woman who is assaulted, and then assaulted again when she reports it; the one who lives with a burden of guilt that society gleefully allows her to carry.
I hate it. Really hate it.