The “Not Rape” Epidemic

This tremendously powerful essay was brought to my attention today. I will offer the same warning as the author – it could be a trigger for those who have experienced sexual assault. However, this is one of the best pieces on the subject of unrecognized sexual assault that I have ever read. Every adult should be required to read this essay to gain a better understanding of the nature of sexual assault.

Original Essay: The Not Rape Epidemic.

Added later:

It occurred to me, that many people may miss the relevance of this essay since it written in a culturally specific setting. Perhaps it may have been particularly obvious to me because of being a girl/woman who traversed that same dangerous “not rape” path within a Christian sub-culture.

So I am writing to clarify and ask that readers remember the same phenomena occurs within Christian circles. This is not specific to only the “type of people” talked about in this essay, and therefore, we don’t have to worry about it. Some particularly foolish and judgmental individuals might even suggest they “get what they deserve.”

Girls and women in Christian circles have brothers, cousins, uncles, fathers, and grandfathers, too. They have family friends, deacons, elders, Sunday School teachers, youth pastors, and pastors. They have other teens in the youth group. And they are subject to exactly the same types of scenarios described in this essay.

I grew up in a virtually enclosed Christian sub-culture. Yet I, too, faced an almost constant barrage. From being molested by a Christian teenaged babysitter when I was five – who was a girl – right on through being repeatedly groped by other teenage girls! — yes, it can happen in the Christian world, too. I never understood it then, but for some reason teenaged guys seemed to like me, and there was the constant pressure there, too – including the dishonorable, being caught in back halls and corners, being grabbed and groped – in the church, with no chance or choice to say no.

That doesn’t even touch on the pressure put on a woman or girl by an authority figure in the church or in her family who is far more sophistocated about it, both manipulating and forcing her into an impossible situation of demanded compliance with his sexual advances. All the while, she knows she cannot tell — because no one will believe her. And she is very frequently right. Even if she is believed, her reputation will be dragged through the dirt and she will lose friends, or even more, in the process — because there will be many who refuse to believe she didn’t bring it on herself. Because it is “not rape.”

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you for posting this, Danni. And thank you for clarifying. Some of the people I used to go to church with would have done exactly what you said – dismissed the essay as being about a culture other than theirs. I, too, grew up in the fairly enclosed church culture, and yet neighbors, older cousins, babysitters – full on forced sexual activity as early as 2 years old. Hmm… and my babysitter was a girl, too. Then there was the 4 out of 10 ministers that I have attended meetings who turned out to be sexual predators… All this is a mostly rural or small town setting – not a metropolitan or inner city one. It knows no social, economic, racial, cultural or religious bounds. This goes on everywhere.

    • Actually, it is probably not limited to a female problem either. I would guess my brothers faced a similar situation – given the things I know occurred. And it is a BIG problem in Christian circles – all of them.

      — Danni

  2. The churches I grew up in, which emphasized submission and silence and not questioning authority, and blaming those who ever tried to report abuse, helped perpetuate the cycle for years. It was a great place for abusers of both sexes to hide. A theology that values what both sexes as created in God’s image and therefore, good, is a great place to start….so are public declarations like one pastor made, “If I get a report of abuse against you, you have 24 hours to report to the police, or I will do it for you. Not on my watch!” God bless him!

    • Absolutely! Even the simple fact of silence from the pulpit – which becomes silence period – is HUGE! The only reason people don’t do this is really because of personal discomfort. It is wrapped up in spiritualisms to make the excuses palatable – but those are just excuses that do not bear up under the weight of any real, honest or Biblical evaluation.

      You have also touched on yet another HUGE issue of false paradigms that color everything – the idea that “since people are born sinners” we have a presupposition of evil already in place. Ironically, this presupposition applies to children – who are born sinners and we must discipline it out of them, and to women – who are “weaker vessels” and susceptible to deception and, therefore, require the rulership of men. BOTH PERSPECTIVES ARE INHERENTLY AND FUNDAMENTALLY DISRESPECTFUL. Both are also Scripturally inaccurate.

      But men remain remarkably excluded. Once a male reaches adulthood he is no longer in the disrespected ranks, but is fully entitled to retain both attitudes toward women and children. This sounds almost paranoid, but it is a hidden reality that is so taken for granted we don’t “see it.”

      And inherent, fundamental disrespect like this is the definition of prejudice. Imagine that – prejudice in the church. Yes, indeed.

      The truth is that each human who is ever born was created deliberately in the image of God – which God calls very good. Each has been specially designed with a unique combination of personality, talents, gifts and abilities. This is also very good.

      The fact of sin in the world and in human geneology is not a reflection of our value or identity. This is a HUGE issue. The two issues – our identity/value and the problem of sin – are separate and must not be confused or intertwined.

      — Danni

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