My heart has been breaking the last couple of days, reading the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag. I don’t usually write or speak out on hot button issues, because I firmly believe that I should only write on something when I have something to say, to contribute to the conversation. I have nothing to say about the political situation, nothing to say to your abusers, nothing to say to the people who are so invested in an agenda that celebrates shaming others that they are unable to listen to anyone else’s pain.
I want to write to the victims. To the brave women and men finally finding their voices and speaking their pain. You’ve faced criticism, accusations, vitriol as a result of what you share. I don’t know that I have any profound words for you, but I do have this:
I believe you.
I don’t have an answer or a reason or a time machine to go back and stop your abuse. I can’t give you back your innocence. I can’t be there in the aftermath to stroke your hair and hold you tight and promise to make sure no one ever hurts you again.
I believe you, and my mama heart knows this is what you needed.
I can’t make the grown-ups and authority figures around you believe you. I wish I could. I wish I could grab hold of those mothers who chose a boyfriend or husband over the innocence of their own child. Grab hold of them and . . . I don’t know what I would do. The people who ignored you or told you not to make a big deal about it, who taught you that maintaining the status quo is more important than telling the truth – these people were not on your side when it counted most. It’s inexcusable.
But I believe you, and you deserve to have people in your life who do.
I can’t change the difficulty of the reporting process, the way you are re-victimized. Maybe someone else has an answer, maybe all it takes is one police officer, and then another, and then another, to truly look in your eyes and see your pain and want to make it right. I can’t get justice for you.
I believe you, and if I could, I would go with you to report.
As I said a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been reading in Habbakuk. The first chapter contains a complaint that Habbakuk makes to the Lord. In verse 3, he says “Why do You make me see iniquity [ongoing, flagrant, rebellious sin], and why do You look idly at wrong?” Verse 4 goes on: “So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”
I don’t know that I’ve read anything else that sums up what I see in every headline better than these 2 verses. For those of you who have been victimized, I get how you would feel that God is not moving, not doing anything on your behalf, that He is letting this happen to you. I see the aftermath, the #WhyIDidntReport. And I see the evil comments you have to deal with. The rest of Habbakuk likely will not offer you a whole lot of comfort. God had justice in mind for the king and the leaders who did not protect the innocent, but none of it looked the way anyone thought it would.
So even though I’ve been reading in this book of the Bible, I’m not going to try to draw some grand parallel about the mysterious ways in which God metes out justice. He does and He will, but I don’t think it’s helpful for me to say it.
Do you know what does help? What you’re doing right now. Speaking up, telling your stories with bravery. And not just about the initial abuse, but about the secondary abuse caused by a weak point in our system. You should be believed, and the people in charge should care. They didn’t, and now you’re speaking out, and I’m so proud of you.
I hear you. I see you. I believe you.