This whole Harvey Weinstein debacle is bringing up a lot of questions, and while I surely don’t have all of the answers, I believe I know why women, and men, who have suffered sexual abuse wait so long to tell others about it. And I believe I know who is responsible for the culture that seems to think abuse is OK.
I was married for nineteen years before I told my husband that I was an abuse survivor. Nineteen years. By then, I’d known him for twenty-three years. Like a cancer that was spreading corruption throughout every aspect of my life, my secret was metastasizing into a marriage-destroying monster and it got to the place where I had to tell Brian.
So, I wrote a letter, and one evening, after supper, I gave it to him and asked him to read it. Then, I went into the bathroom, closed the door, sat down, and started to cry. I was convinced that I would never see Brian again, and I expected that I would never see our sons again either. Why? Why did I think this good man would take our sons and leave? Shame.
When I was abused, peace and truth moved out and deception and shame moved in. Shame is a vicious liar. Shame is not silent. Shame tells us that we are worthless, that we are defiled, that we need to hide our secret deep in the darkest recesses of our being because if anyone finds out, they will reject us. Shame convinces us that we are unwanted garbage.
Shame is the mortar that holds together the bricks of darkness, deception, and depression that fortify the walls of isolation. Shame prevents us from inviting people into our hearts, no matter how much we love them, because we are afraid that if they see the filth that is hidden there, they will leave.
Shame holds us hostage to loneliness. Even in a marriage, even with many friends, we are always lonely because we never dare let anyone get close because the pain of their leaving, should they discover our secret, is too great to risk. We long for intimacy, but we know it will never be completely ours because the vulnerability that is necessary for closeness is beyond our grasp. We keep our guard up and protect our secret, understanding that every relationship can only go so far, and no further.
So we keep our secret, until we can keep it no more, and then it spews out like vomit, and we wait for those we love to recoil in disgust, and that’s where I was, that evening, in the bathroom.
Why do we wait? The fear of shame. The fear of rejection. The fear of being left completely alone. We wait because we believe the lies that shame tells us. And while we wait, we hide behind a passionate desire to please others, and make them feel important so that they will stay as close as we will let them be.
We wait to speak up because of shame, but who is to blame for this sexually charged culture that perpetrates abuse?
I’m reading blog posts and articles blaming every man on the planet for this culture of abuse that we live in. Not only are men being blamed… men are taking the blame! Men who have done nothing wrong are bowing to man-hating feminists and saying, yes, yes, I’m a man, I must be to blame.
No! No, you are not to blame! Unless of course, you’ve actually abused or harassed another human being, then, yes, you are part of the problem. But, the rest of you — we need you!
We don’t need you to step back and throw up your hands in surrender, we need you to get into the trenches and fight with us and for us, we need you to stand up and defend us. We need you to be men, real men, men who are strong warriors, who are willing to stand against the culture while you stand alongside and protect those you love — your wives, daughters, sisters and mothers, and yes, your sons, brothers and fathers.
If men are not to blame, who is? Evil. That’s the one thing I’m not reading or hearing a lot about in this conversation, and it’s the one thing that is responsible for all of it. People do wicked and disgusting things when they yield to evil and its temptations, and shame is the result.
Evil deceives. It screams that pornography won’t hurt anybody, while it silently teaches that women and children are objects to be used and discarded. Evil insists that getting ones way at the expense of another person’s dignity and innocence is acceptable. Evil oppresses; it gets in our heads and tells us that we are worthless.
There is evil in the world; and the father of evil, the father of lies and deception, is the devil. He is alive. He is at work. We cannot defeat him with programs, or rehab, or hashtag campaigns. There is only one antidote for evil, one means of victory over evil, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the way to victory over evil, and he is the only way to experience victory over shame. When we belong to Jesus, when he is our Savior and our Lord, when we acknowledge that we belong to him, his Words light the path that leads us to the discovery that shame is not our master; we see shame for the lie that it is. When we dwell in Christ, there is nothing that condemns us, we have been set free, we have been declared just and righteous before the bar of the Judge of the Universe.
Jesus helps us understand that our worth is not in who we are, but in whose we are. We can let go of the shame, because there is nothing hidden from God, he sees and knows everything about us, and he still loves us! Jesus breaks the power that evil holds over us, and he alone overcomes the evil in our culture.
God loves us, nothing can separate us from his love, he will never leave us, and he fights for us without end.
When I was alone in the bathroom, all those years ago, I did not hear the front door open. I did not hear my family leave. I heard the strong promise of my husband that we would be OK! I felt his arms lift me up and carry me. I rested in the safety of his embrace. He did not leave, he stayed and he entered the fight for me and with me. The man I love is brave enough to love a broken woman, because he knows he is also loved by God. He is not a perfect warrior, but he is in the trenches with me, and with God.
Without Christ shame will destroy you, silence will defeat you, and weakness is inevitable. Evil will always press in and distort the truth. Nevertheless, there is victory and power in Jesus and it is available today. Will you claim it? Will you live in it? Will you fight for it?
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