I learned something extremely useful the other day from my online interactions with the lovely, Bethany Suckrow after I wrote this post a few days ago in which I passionately argued for grace -not attack- for the man who committed statutory rape on one of his Youth group attendee’s detailed in a post he wrote for CT.  On my call for grace and restorative redemption for him? Yes.  I still stand behind that.  On considering the ramifications of the abused?  I need to work on that.

{Can I just pause here to say this: I am not above reproach, never have been, never will be.  My blog does not and will not make me an expert on anything.  I am always open to challenge, rebuke, correction.  I’ll argue passionately, I’ll be angry, I’ll go back and forth as much as emotional capacity allows, but I will consider your perspective and if need be I will change my mind.  If I’m going to engage on the internet I need to be willing to stand corrected even if I’m feeling misunderstood.  I may be stubborn, but I’m not hard-headed, there’s a difference.  No one ever has the right to say they were too afraid to engage with me.  I’m here and like Frasier, I’m listening}

On the original post, through dialogue Bethany left this comment:

“Actually, the abuser’s perspective has been the predominantly central perspective for pretty much forever. They control the narrative more often than not, which is why our culture has a pervasive problem with victim-blaming, slut-shaming, tone policing, etc. The abusers (and the people and org’s who protect and enable them) are the ones who have taught us the lie that the victim “wanted it” or that their dress, behavior, etc., “deserved it,” or that “grace” for the abuser looks like giving them a free pass.

I think when we acknowledge this reality and begin to center victim’s voices and make safe spaces for victims to tell their stories, it will actually do much more to prevent abuse and bring healing (even to the abusers!) than centering the voice of the abuser. This has been our argument from the beginning of this conversation last week. Because we don’t want people like that guy who are susceptible to harmful ideas to buy into the temptation. Centering the voice of the victim is central to changing the trajectory of this issue, both on an individual and societal level.” -Bethany

What immediately came to mind (which I explained a bit more in my follow-up video) is the narrative of African-American and African history in America.  (And equally so, Native-American history).  The predominantly central narrative given across the board is from the perspective of white Americans.  Many American children do not learn the actual historical facts regarding the slavery of many millions of Africans until they get to college unless their education is supplemented by parents & relatives.  And even in college a student could very well fail to learn the true history of their country by majoring in Math or something else non-related.

As I considered the control of the slavery narrative and even the stories from the late 1800’s through the Civil Rights Movements when African-Americans were technically “free” but still hunted and hated human beings with very few rights, it’s obvious that not having access and platform to our history has harmed our progress significantly making days like today, Juneteenth all the more important.  Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  And let’s just face it, American does a better job of commemorating the bombing of Pearl Harbor than it does the freedom of millions of precious people who were considered NOT HUMAN and treated FAR WORSE than farm animals.

Juneteenth_Logo_Banner

 

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As an abuse survivor storyteller-by-nature, I come from a privileged perspective.  When I read the original CT article I hadn’t initially considered how the victim of that story may feel seeing that article go up on online.  I hadn’t thought it through completely, but in hindsight I realized that my assumption is that if she didn’t like it she would have come forward to say so.  After all, that is what I would have done.  But everyone is not me.  Not everyone has a big @$$ mouth and a comfortably with online vulnerability.  And even she did, maybe she’s not ready to tell her side.  And even if she wanted to maybe she blames herself.  Or any manner of reasons she may not want to address it publicly.  I pray she was protected from seeing the article because as I mentioned before but I’ll say it again for clarity sake: that article should not have went up and I believe his not-yet-healthy-or-whole mindset towards what happened not only traumatized her but other abuse victims as well.

My perspective towards her lent some to some important insight for me into my own story as a privileged-abuse-surviving storyteller.  You see, I’ve always told my story.  Thankfully, I missed the step where my perspective on my father’s abuse threw me into a den of silence and shame.  I remember sitting around a circle at Rhonda Duke’s 6th grade birthday party telling everyone what happened and how I’d recently sent my Father to prison.  I didn’t intend to share it, but it was secret-sharing-girl-time so I did.

I told all my childhood best friends and I even told a few boyfriends if for no other reason than to help them keep their hands off me if they were noble enough to do so.  I didn’t like it, so I told them.  Directly after I got out of high school at 17 yrs. old, I started speaking to Church youth groups, sharing my story of abuse, redemption and Jesus and my desire for celibacy before marriage.  After I became a minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship I shared my story with college students in conferences, in Churches & even in secular classrooms more times than I can count.  The point is, my story has ALWAYS been on my lips from the moment I stood on that witness stand to send my Father to prison.  That is how justice found me.  I OWN my story.  I’ve NEVER not once felt my Father had ownership of MY story.  I have the rights. I have the copyright.  I have the keys. I have the title.  I have it all.  He has nothing.  He does not even have life.  He had prison and then cancer found him.

My father told his family members that my mother & I lied.  He’d said he was wrongly convicted and that my mother was retributive for his lying to her about not being married to someone else.   When I learned this, I was shattered.  I was exasperated.  hearing his bullshit-face-saving-non-repentant-assinine story told to just a few made me feel he’d sinned against me in way that is stronger than hate, stronger than murder, even stronger than the rapes he’d all ready committed against me: he betrayed me.  He betrayed his own daughter to save his reputation to his sons.

Yet, here I am saying: I’m. not. having. that. shit.   Here is the story of MY abuse and IT IS MY STORY TO TELL.

That is my privilege.  I need to own that I, Grace Sandra have been privileged with gifting, calling & ongoing consistent platform to tell my story of abuse.  Very few abuse victims have that.  For me, that means I need to continue to empower and encourage other abuse victims who need to speak out and will in fact find freedom and hope in doing so.  Owning my privilege means not assuming all abuse victims process their abuse like I have.   And of course, like most owners of privilege I need to read and process everything through my lens of privilege, but most importantly I need to USE my privilege and platform to keep telling the stories of the traumatized who cannot do so.  There isn’t much that hurts my heart more than seeing the stories of my black ancestors forgotten, maligned and misrepresented through re-traumatizing storytelling through they lens of a blissfully ignorant storyteller.

I’m thankful for how this conversation has lent towards greater understanding for me and it is my prayer to be able to help other abuse victims experience healing even as I so desperately need more of it myself.

Now.  Go celebrate #Juneteenth by learning the stories of the traumatized.

 

Signature
  • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

    Love this so much, Grace. Thanks for quoting me. And lemme say here and now: I’m not the expert on anything either, and I have my own ish and privilege to work through. I hope I’m half as gracious and willing to change as you are. And thanks for drawing my attention to Juneteenth. I’d never even heard of it before today, thanks to those damn “history” books at my whitey-whiteville high school. Much love, sister.

  • Sistergirl

    Hoppin by from Inspiring Sisters, The Lord shows us grace and we have to do the same. It is not always easy.

  • Garp

    Thank you!

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