If you have been reading my blog at all you know that I was raped 7 years ago. I think previously I told people it was 8 because that felt far enough away. The reality is it was 7 years ago but math and I don’t get along so it may have been longer.
The time is not relevant but is a side effect of being sexually abused and raped: my time lines are all sorts of messed up.
Any-who, not the point of this blog.
Recently I sat down with my supervisor for my internship and she and I were discussing one of the hardest issues for women who have been sexually violated: abused, raped, etc. The hardest issues for us is forgiveness.
When I was thinking about forgiving my own rapist it was hard to do. Not for the reasons you might think. Sure I was angry with him but I wanted to let go of my anger. The hardest thing about forgiving my rapist was thinking he might get off-scott-free if I forgave him (this is an unacceptable idea because I’m dealing with his actions everyday of my life).
In other words the only way I could acknowledge what happened to me, or keep him in a state of pain was to keep my unforgiveness. I couldn’t give up my unforgiveness because that meant that he wouldn’t be hurting. Now the irrational thoughts that surrounded that idea have been dealt with (believe me I did realize that he had no idea that I wasn’t forgiving him).
What helped me to forgive him was the realization that he was hurting. I mean seriously what sane, non-broken, non-messed up man rapes a woman? What man with love in his heart violates a woman like that?
I have lots of guy friends who are messed up in many ways but none of them would ever think of raping a woman.
What makes a man rape a woman? What causes him to turn down that path? I could forgive him because I realized that he was already hurting.
What good would it do me if he fried for what he did to me? What good would it do me if we lined him up on a firing squad and took aim at his privates?
It might make me feel vindicated in the moment but I’m not sure the person I would become after such a thing would be someone I would want to look in the mirror.
I did mention earlier that this was a process. There are some days where that firing squad seems pretty awesome but most days I just want him to receive help.
If a man was lying in a pool drowning would you save him? If a man was dying in an alley because of a bullet wound would you call 911? If a man was dying on the inside and hurting people on the outside would you want to help him?
My rapist deserves help and he deserves to pay for what he did to me. But judgment is not mine. Who’s to say what justice is in this particular moment? If he goes to jail and gets out will he still be a rapist? If he goes to therapy and gets help as well as serving time for his indiscretion and gets out will he still be a rapist?
As a woman who is devoting her life to helping women who have been sexually abused/sexually violated I can tell you that a high percentage of the abusers and rapists out there were victims first. So what is our duty to them? Do they deserve help?
I think its like an addicts edict: Just because you are an addict doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be held accountable for your actions. The same is true for victims: Just because you are a victim doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be held accountable for your actions.
In my case my rapist will not be held accountable. There will be no trial. There will be no court dates. There will be no jail time, at least not for what he did to me. But the sad truth is rapists don’t stop until someone stops them.
My hope is that someone stopped him. My hope is that someone got him the help he needed before he hurt someone else. My hope is that there aren’t other victims out there just like me. My hope is that he got help and is no longer a rapist.
My hope for my childhood abuser is the same. My hope is that someone was able to file charges and that she was stopped.
We need to hold our abusers accountable and one of the only ways to do that now is in the court system. We need to let go of our anger and need for vengeance and remind ourselves that they need help too.
I was able to forgive my rapist because I realized he is hurting and the idea of him hurting made me want to get him help. Realizing that I didn’t want him hurting but I wanted him to get help so he would stop hurting others helped me to let go of my unforgiveness.
So the truth is most days I have forgiven my rapist and on the days where I find it hard I remind myself that he is broken too and usually that is enough to keep him from the firing squad.