Why didn’t accusers speak up sooner? Victims understand

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Transparency is removing the mask and revealing who you really are; it is getting beyond the surface to what is really going on in your heart.

Mother Teresa once said, “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”

It’s been almost a week since allegations came to light that Senate-hopeful Roy Moore inappropriately touched a 14-year-old girl in Etowah County in the late 1970s.

Four others have also come forward to allege similar incidents as teenagers.

Since then, there has been an onslaught against Moore’s accusers by men and women alike. Many of whom question the timing of coming out with the details. That’s why I’m about to be transparent.

Why would they wait so long, many have asked. Or why didn’t they tell their parents? Or why didn’t their parents do something about it?

Statistics show that every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, and 1 in 6 woman have been sexually assaulted or have an attempted sexual assault.

Maybe a person who has never been sexually assaulted can’t fully understand the dynamics and feelings that go into just surviving afterward.

I’ve written about sexual assault before, but I was quite frankly embarrassed to say I’m a victim, myself.

It happened nearly 20 years ago, at the hands of someone I trusted; someone who should have looked out for me, but didn’t. I’m almost 32, so do the math. I certainly didn’t ask for it, and the people who should have taken care of me just brushed it under the rug. It didn’t happen again after I spoke up, and I tucked it away in the back of my head until three years ago. So, for 16-17 years, I didn’t talk about it. I acted like it didn’t happen. I was embarrassed. I blamed myself. I was emotionally numb when it came to that.

But, three years ago, I admitted to one of my close friends what happened. Since then, I confronted the people who didn’t protect me. I realized that while I thought I had tucked it away, that there were decisions I had made that ultimately were because I didn’t deal with this.

I say all of that to say, that sometimes talking about something so intimate happened to you, is a conversation you don’t want to have until you’re ready.

And society does a good job of victim shaming and blaming.

We very rarely say to a victim, “We’re here for you. We believe you. We have your back.”

Instead, we say things like “You should dress more modestly” or “He’s a Christian man. He wouldn’t do that” or “Who’s going to believe you?”

I ask those who are in the game of shaming victims to think about what you would do if it were your teenage daughter (or son). Would you stand by her or would you encourage her to keep her mouth shut? The choice you make will have a lasting effect.

Bishop T.D. once said, “Things that are covered don’t heal well.”

Hopefully, the current national dialogue – not just Roy Moore’s accusers – but the whole #metoo movement, will help many others have the healing conversations they need.