Finding support through our MeToo experiences
From the Pastor's Desk
October 13, 2018
These past few weeks, I have been contacted by numerous people, some males, but mostly females, who have been victims of sexual assault. A sexually explicit letter was also placed on my teenage daughter's car by someone who's been watching her and her female roommates. One of her roommates posted online, "Women experience this kind of violence or threatened violence every day. When will it stop?"
How does it stop?
To be honest, I kind of lost count about how many times I've been sexually assaulted. Most of the incidents happened when I was a girl in the basement of the church we attended. It was a weekly chore to try and avoid one large older boy who would seize on opportunities to get young girls in coat closets and out of the way locations. He was mean and rough. We all whispered to our parents, but in those days, nothing happened. It was church. People didn't speak about such things. We were told to try and stay away from him. Good idea!
As a teenager, he grabbed me and ripped my dress, when I was getting into my car in the church parking lot. He was trying to get into my car, too. I yelled and honked repeatedly. People looked and wondered what was going on, but nobody came to help. He was big and strong. I got him to let go of me by gouging my fingernails deep into his arms and scratching his forearms all the way down. He pulled back bleeding and I quickly shut the door and drove off crying, picking at my nails to remove his flesh. Soon after, this young man violently raped one of the other girls at the church and he was sent away.
I didn't return to church for many years after that. I didn't know if I ever would. My heart breaks for people who have been assaulted, especially at places that are supposed to be safe, by people we are attempting to be with in loving community.
Most assaults happen with people we know and sadly, many occur in places that are supposed to be safe. Times have changed and we are more aware of sexual assault. We are aware that silence allows violence to continue within communities. This past year, the MeToo movement has given voice to many, encouraging people to come forward and tell their stories. This is a tricky thing. We avoid telling our stories for many reasons. I learned that it really didn't do any good when I was younger. Today, it makes others uncomfortable. It's not pleasant. It's humiliating. I don't want others who could have protected me to feel bad. Sharing my story can be a trigger for others who suffer from past traumas, causing them to remember and relive their ordeals.
That is exactly what seems to be happening in our country and all around us right now. Many have been remembering their stories, because sexual assault is very common. Our mothers, grandmothers, wives, daughters and some males have their stories. They may either be wanting to share them to put an end to this madness, or desperately trying to avoid anything to do with their personal nightmares.
For those who would like to gather with others, I will be leading a MeToo Healing Service at my current church on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. All are welcome. The service will provide safe space, meditation, prayer and an opportunity for people to share their stories, if they choose. No one service can heal the pain, but collectively and with the Divine, we can be there for each other and grow stronger together.
About Tehachapi Community Church, UCC:
No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!
The Tehachapi Community Church, UCC is an open and welcoming community of faith that believes that each person, created in the image of God, holds a piece of the truth. Therefore we respect each person's unique spiritual journey. We invite you to experience the difference that religious freedom in a caring community can make in that journey.
We are located at 100 East E St., in Tehachapi. Worship and Sunday School are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Please join us for coffee and fellowship at our Friendship Hall after worship (approximately 11:30 a.m.).
All are welcome.