oh wait, that’s probably a bit heretical, right? Ok. Justin Welby is awesome, anyway. This blog (can you tell I’ve just learnt to do this? I’m gonna be linking every bloody thing now) says it all. It sounds like it should be self evident – of course the survivors of abuse are not to blame. Unfortunately, it’s not always viewed that way.
A survey in 2010 (read that people, 2010, not 1910!) asked people to decide whether a woman was to blame in various scenarios of sexual assault. Almost 3 quarters of women surveyed believed a woman was to blame if she had previously gotten into bed with a perpetrator. A third blamed victims who had gone to the attackers house for a drink, or who had “dressed provocatively”.
And it’s not just others either. It’s far too easy to blame yourself. If only I hadn’t said this, worn that, done this…
I know. Because that’s me. That’s my life. That’s me blaming myself. That’s me spending years and years and years thinking it was all my fault. I must be a bad person. God must hate me. And I’d go to church and I’d hear messages about how much He loved me and I’d think – that can’t be me. I’m too broken.
So tonight, I’m going to echoe Justin Welby, because I can think of no better. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking “me too” – please understand this. It was never your fault.
That person who hurt you? They made a choice. It was an awful, horrible, and wrong choice – but it was their choice.
There’s nothing you could have done, said, thought that was worthy of this. No-one deserves to be hurt like that.
You are not worthless. You are not hated by God. He is not ashamed of you. He loves you. He delights in you. He rejoices in you. He sings over you.
This is not all there is. There’s hope. There’s beauty. And some day, you’ll look back and you’ll see all the messy, unco-ordinated, painful strands, have been woven into a beautiful tapestry. I promise.
My son Isaac loves to play “mummies and daddies”. His favourite game at the moment is to pretend he’s my daddy and I’m his little girl. Today, he said this to me –
“little girl, little girl! you are my precious and I love you very very very much!”
Yes, I know. He’s gorgeous.
I like to think though, that that’s what God thinks of me. It’s hard to explain without being there, but there was osmething in Isaac’s openhearted enthusiasm that really spoke to me. It was just – love, love with no agendas, love that wasn’t interested in what I could do for him. Just love.
And little girl – little boy – you need to hear this. You are precious, and very, very, very loved. This world would not be what it is without you in it. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
You’ve been hurt and violated and had your trust broken into a million pieces – maybe once, maybe so many times that you’ve lost count. I know. Me too. And there are parts you’ve buried deep inside because you’re terrified of what would happen if it ever saw the light of day again. And parts that you think will never, ever be made whole again. Never not hurt. Never be ok.
I know. Me too.But it was never, ever your fault. You didn’t make that choice. But you can make one now – and it’s one of the harest you will ever have to make. I don’t say this lightly. But it’s the choice of whther to believe those lies, or to step forward into the truth.
Sometimes the lies are- well, kind of a comfort blanket. Because if our identity is shaped around them, it’s bloody hard to give it up.
But the truth? Ahhh…there’s the rub. It’ll be the most painful thing you ever do. But the most wonderfully liberating one too.
Leave the blanket behind. It stinks.
And you? You’re beautiful.