Why Does It Take So Long For Victims to Come Forward?
Wise King Solomon wrote there is
“A time to be silent and a time to speak.”
It seems with the #MeToo movement, it is a time for women in particular to speak. Conversations abound on social media concerning rape and the general disrespect for women. The latest news to stir the pot concerns the sexual assault allegations that Christine Blasey Ford has brought forth on Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
I’m not normally one to jump into these debates on social media, but it’s easy to see the most common counter argument for Ford’s case against Kavanaugh is the time span between the alleged rape and her coming forward. As I was reading one Facebook thread, this comment was left by a man:
“To wait that long whether he’s guilty or not is just too long it’s done it’s over move on nothing anyone can say or do will ever change whether it was right or wrong just move on.”
A woman responded with,
“there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault here in Maryland… The law says you’re wrong…”
And then it got ugly. He resorted to obscene name calling and wrote, “it takes you 40 years to realize you were raped ? You can’t fix stupid ignorance …”
That’s when I considered responding to his ignorance in that thread, but chose to do so here instead.
I’m not taking sides as to whether Kavanaugh is innocent or guilty of the charges pressed against him by Dr. Ford. What I’m moved to share is how that one comment affected me personally as a victim of rape and as an advocate for the silent lambs of the Watchtower Society’s policy to protect pedophiles and rapists within their fold. That one man’s remark revealed a lack of understanding as to why a victim would wait so long to report a crime. He assumed the delay in reporting a sexual assault is due to the “forgetfulness” on the part of the victim. I can’t speak for every victim, but I know in my own case, I never forgot the details of what happened to me, but roughly 30 years had passed before I could process it as rape. The plain truth of it is that at age 12, I simply didn’t know how. Any intelligent person can understand the fear that holds a child back from reporting what has happened especially if that child is much younger and under the authority of adults committed to covering it up.
Imagine a 9 year old girl being sexually abused repeatedly and going to her church for help. Silenced by the elders verdict that if no other witness was present to confirm her allegations, she retreats. Then 6 years later, she details for them in a two page letter what her abuser did to her. At that point, her local congregation sends the matter to the headquarters which in turn asks for more details. So this young teen is forced to once again relive her trauma through yet another reporting and for what outcome? The pedophile was disfellowshipped but a letter returned stating that “The community nor the authorities are aware of this matter,” and that “The members of the congregation are also at this time unaware of what took place,” and so they choose to reinstate the abuser back into the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and he went on to molest more children. The woman who came forward in this case said,
“This case was about exposing a system that protects the Jehovah’s Witness organization by keeping its victims quiet.”
She related that,“We were taught at a young age not to talk to secular authorities and to trust the elders to handle any issues — even child abuse. That system took our voice away from us. This case was about getting our voice back and being heard. We feel like we accomplished that. However, we know one case won’t be enough to make the Jehovah’s Witnesses change their policies. We hope that other victims will hear our story and feel the strength to speak up and fight as well.”
This expressed hope is being realized now with a flurry of victims telling their stories of abuse not only in the Watchtower but as we’ve also been seeing in Hollywood and political arenas as in the Kavanaugh case.
Why the wait? Because the testimony of one persistent victim strengthens others to come out from hiding.
The jury’s award of $35 million in punitive and compensatory damages to this woman abused in the Watchtower might be taken as another reason for that same ignorant man on Facebook to claim that because two decades passed since the molestation, she’s just after the money, and “to wait that long whether he’s guilty or not is just too long it’s done it’s over move on nothing anyone can say or do will ever change whether it was right or wrong just move on.” In response, I would like to quote his own words back, “You can’t fix stupid ignorance.” But if he’s literate enough to read an entire article and not just jump onto a thread to spout a few obscenities, perhaps his ignorance will give way to some enlightenment. As this woman’s attorney said concerning the large financial settlement, “It’s a message to the church: If leadership won’t amend their policies in handling child sex abuse, they’re going to pay for it.”
And pay for it they have been.
You’d think a case like this would be of concern to those who serve within this organization. However, very few ever hear about. And when they do, they often assume they are lies made up by angry former members. Listen in while “Christine” calls a Kingdom Hall to discuss this recent case.
After $28 million was awarded to former Jehovah’s Witness Candace Conti in the 2012 case she brought forth against the Watchtower who had protected her perpetrator in the Kingdom Hall, you’d think they would’ve changed their policy. But the Watchtower maintains an abuser as innocent unless there were two witnesses making the accusation. They refer to this as the “two witness rule.” So when an abused child comes forward with a claim against an adult’s inappropriate behavior toward them, the child is silenced unless there was another adult present at the time of the assault to verify the truthfulness of the child’s accusation. How many pedophiles do you suppose call up a responsible adult to be a witness to the sick crime they intend to commit against a child? Yet in response to the increasing concerns regarding their “two witness rule,” they refuse to take this problem seriously.
The Candace Conti case encouraged more victims to speak out. Then the Australian Royal Commission conducted its own probe into the Watchtower’s practice of protecting known predators and discovered more than 1,000 allegations never turned over to authorities. As a former Jehovah’s Witness, I know first hand this practice of sweeping it all under the rug. The elders use the fear tactic of being ostracized from other members for causing “Jehovah’s organization” to be exposed as anything less than perfect and thus prevent members from speaking out or getting any helpful counsel. And when courageous former members push past the fear and do come forward, the leadership dismisses it’s role in any foul play and blames it all on “apostate lies.”
But court case after court case in favor of the victims is proving these are not just rumors fomented by ex-members.
Sometimes it takes 10, 20 or 40 years before a victim comes forward, but that one voice encourages yet another to speak. And so, it’s accelerating and millions are being paid out by this pseudo-Christian cult.
Speaking out is costing the Watchtower, but to their credit, the Watchtower has actually ENCOURAGED finding one’s voice when being wrongly treated. In an early publication, they supposed a situation in which a man threatened a woman and forced her to lay down with him. They stated that “According to God’s law an Israelite girl was under obligation to scream” citing Deuteronomy 22:23-27. Then went on to say,
“But suppose the man had a weapon and threatened to kill the girl if she failed to lie down with him? These scriptures do not weaken the argument or alter the situation by citing any circumstance that would justify her in not screaming. It plainly says she should scream;”
And the Watchtower understood the value of that raised voice to alert others of the danger.
“The thought of the scriptures apparently is that the girl’s screaming, by attracting neighborhood attention, would frighten off her assailant and would save her, even though he threatened her life for not quietly complying with his wishes and passionate desires.”
So bravo to the Watchtower for AGREEING that these molested victims have a right to scream in the hope of warning others. But within that SAME article, they can’t seem to resist resorting back to their usual tactic of BLAMING THE VICTIM!
“Such Scriptural precedents are applicable to Christians, who are under command, “Flee from fornication.” (1 Cor. 6:18) Thus if a Christian woman does not cry out and does not put forth every effort to flee, she would be viewed as consenting to the violation. ”
To not cry out is viewed by the Watchtower as consent to fornication. So no matter how much time passes, if victims remained quiet and compliant to their abusers, aren’t they also saying they remain guilty for their sexual assault? And so their article continues, “The Christian woman who wants to keep clean and obey God’s commandments, then, if faced with this situation today, needs to be courageous and to act on the suggestion made by the Scriptures and scream.”
While I don’t agree with their assessment that a silent, raped woman is guilty of fornication as if it were her own decision to engage in an act of violent abuse, but I do agree whole-heartedly with their encouragement to victims of assault to “be courageous and to act on the suggestion made by the Scriptures and scream.”
Do you hear them? The abused victims of the Watchtower have formed a large army and their voice is finally being heard. There is a time to speak!
Keep yourself in God’s love,
Article quotes taken fromWatchtower 1964 January 15 pp.63-4 Questions from Readers
For full story on the recent $35 million award to the victim of abuse in the Watchotwer:
For more information the two witness rule: