I will persist, until our voices are more likely to be believed instead of disbelieved. I will persist, even when the world says it’s hopeless to fight for a better reality. Let’s be brokenhearted and grieving and strong and furious together.

It’s been quite the week. What I’m about to write is what some people would consider fairly political, and that in and of itself, is tragic. The core of this matter shouldn’t have to be muddied by political posturing, but that is the broken world we live in. I’m talking, of course, about the Brett Kavanaugh case. Last week, I went to counseling on Wednesday night and though it was a good session, it left me fairly emotionally drained. I woke up on Thursday morning and tried to start watching the Kavanaugh case while I got ready for work; honestly I felt quickly overwhelmed and had to turn it off much sooner than I had initially planned. Even days later, I can only consume news on the issue in small portions.

I was SO angry and so brokenhearted because I saw how much assumption and defensive response existed in this space as I watched and read. Why should there have to be any other agenda at play than truth and justice? It shouldn’t have to be about a Republican agenda or a Democratic agenda; it should be about good Americans who want to take a stand for those who have been abused & hurt, who want to thoroughly investigate accusations of sexual assault, good Americans who don’t choose power over justice. But when you read studies that say that almost 50% of Republicans surveyed would support Kavanaugh EVEN IF THE ALLEGATIONS WERE PROVEN TO BE TRUE….. well that is another level of lament.

I have watched & heard so many responses this week show up that broke my heart (most of them from conservative-Christians, though not all). It confirmed to me all the reasons why victims don’t come forward. It reminded me of my own abusive relationship experience and how my concerns and pain were downplayed.

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For those of you not familiar with this particular chapter of my story, I was in an abusive relationship during my teenage years, from ages 15-17 (yes, that same age range that reflects Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh’s high school interaction). I met him in church, in youth group through mutual friends. I had the conviction at 17 years old to walk away from that relationship in my first semester of college, but it took me 3 years after ending it to start calling that relationship abusive. Though I’ve seen multiple counselors, been to a support group, talked through it with mentors, etc. the negative impact of that relationship is something that still affects me and my marriage today. The anxiety, the hyper-vigilance, the panic that comes with feeling trapped, the pervasive and insidious dread of danger that exits where there may not actually be any, those things have not died even though I ended that relationship almost 11 years ago and haven’t physically seen him in 7 ½ years.

In the first few months after I was trying to untangle myself from that pernicious relationship that caused me to doubt everything about myself, he reached back out. Truly par for the course, he continued to ignore the boundaries I tried to set with him. He was inviting me back into his space, into his life. Because I felt like I couldn’t trust myself, I reached out to a handful of close friends: some I had met in college and had never met this abusive ex of mine, while some were mutual friends of mine and my ex’s from church. I felt cautious about him reaching back out, that it was just going to be another opportunity for him to use me, both emotionally and physically. While my friends from college responded with wisdom, kindness, and protection for me, some of my friends from church responded like this:

He would never be like that. He would never say things like that or do things like that. I don’t know what you’re worried about. Just give him a chance.”

 

I remember my sweet, teenage self being crushed with the naivete of their responses. I wanted to scream

THIS ISN’T A QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT HE IS CAPABLE OF THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR! I ALREADY KNOW HE IS! I ALREADY KNOW WHAT HE HAS SAID AND WHAT HE HAS DONE AND WHAT HE HAS TAKEN FROM ME…….. but if you can’t even acknowledge that, that he already has hurt me beyond measure….. then you can’t be a part of my healing journey.

You see, they had known him longer. They had grown up together. They couldn’t picture him as an abuser, because that wasn’t their experience, so they didn’t. They couldn’t understand that he could be one way with me and different with others, because they still had positive memories with him and had seen him do good things in other parts of his life. The reality is that those things were true for me too, which is part of what took me so long to walk away from him.

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And so I sat in my office on Thursday and Friday of this past week, on the verge of tears all day. Grieving all day. Feeling overwhelmed all day. Not because people didn’t love me and wouldn’t be there for me, but because power in this country is corrupt, because way too many people were focused on what power was to be gained instead of what justice must be served. There are things more important than political parties, because I personally believe that Jesus is bigger and better than being Republican or Democrat. He can be found in the motivations of both of those parties and sometimes He is found in neither.

I wept for Christine (my middle name is Christine) and that her trauma has to be dissected on a world stage, with people ACTUALLY JUDGING whether or not it is true and worthy. I wept for a world who deems political parties more important than a fair and thorough investigation against rape allegations. I wept because some people are worried about this becoming a “witch hunt” when the realities of abuse, rape, etc. are so much more widespread than many are willing to admit. I wept because I thought: “If there is no opportunity for thorough investigation and justice for her on a national stage…. What hope would there be for me? What the hell is the point? If the grand majority of men accused for rape rarely do jail time (cough cough Brock Turner), then how could I believe that there would be justice for me? Or for the countless women and men I’ve sat with who have told me their stories of abuse?”

I just talked with a friend of mine who runs an after school program in an apartment complex, and she said that she overheard some of her teenagers on Friday discussing this case; one of her girls said “It[ sexual assault/rape/abuse]’s just what you go through as a woman.” We live in a world where there are girls and women who just expect that to happen to them, who see it as the norm because it happens so frequently either to themselves or to so many they know. I just came from the incredible Brave On conference last weekend, where some women stood on stage and courageously named their stories of abuse…. to come home to this brutal reality.

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So I urge you, if this situation has called up mainly political arguments for you… I urge you to push yourself to think bigger and deeper than that. If not Kavanaugh, I know someone else with Republican convictions will get that spot; I don’t doubt that. And Democrats certainly aren’t perfect. But it shouldn’t be someone like this. If you’re worried about why she didn’t report it before now, go do some reading about the realities of what trauma does to the brain and to the soul. If you’re really brave, ask a survivor of an abusive relationship, rape, etc., but without the expectation that she or he owes you an explanation. Also know that if you’re commenting negatively about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, you may be deeply wounding survivors around you who may not have trusted you with that part of their story; you may have just have confirmed why they don’t want to tell you, or anyone. Research has proven that the rewards for falsely accusing someone of sexual misconduct are fairly rare and that the cost of accusing someone, even if it’s true, are incredibly large. That the rate of false accusations only run from 2-10%…. which means that 90-98% of the time, those who come forward are telling the truth.

I believe her. I am grieving for America, at how incredibly limited our justice system is. At how much survivors still have to battle, even if they do choose to come forward. Sweet ones, if abuse or exploitation or rape are true for your story, know your story is safe with me. I believe you. I will weep and grieve and rage with you. I will hold your hand and stand in your corner. Abuse and evil exist in so many places that the American justice system turns a blind eye to. I’m here to stand in the gap and fight for a better, truer, more just reality. I believe you. I will put on this shirt that says “Nevertheless, she persisted” because sometimes we need to shout back at the evil that exists in the world in more ways than just using our physical voices. I will persist, until our voices are more likely to be believed instead of disbelieved. I will persist, even when the world says it’s hopeless to fight for a better reality. Let’s be brokenhearted and grieving and strong and furious together. Let’s persist because us survivors needs each other and the next generation needs us too. So let’s persist; the time is now, and we’re not done yet.