“I know the sprinkles are nice, but I’m worried he’s sweetening you up to hurt you later.”
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Actually, I’m not just talking about people who violate, but systems too. Like business, education, religion, politics, etcetera.
Did you know that, in the USA alone, 73% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger? Did you also know that more than 50% of all rape and sexual assault incidents took place within one mile of the victims’ homes? One of the things this tells us about abuse, bullying, violation, assault, harassment, and rape, is that it could happen to us right here right now by someone we trust. I apply these same statistics to systems. We can be violated by organizations, institutions, and systems we are members of and trust.
I listened to an interview of adults who had been abused as children. They agreed that the most terrifying aspect of their abuse was that they never knew when it was going to happen. Things could seem completely fine until some trigger set off their care-givers and set in motion the abuse. For many of them, their care-givers could be angels and the next moment monsters. They could be nice and suddenly nasty.
This can create massive confusion in the mind of the violated, to the point where some of the survivors even wondered if it was their fault, or if they could have prevented it, or if their abuse was really real, and so on.
So I’ve made this short list of why people and systems that can seem so nice can violate you:
- The are unaware of their attitudes and behaviors and their effects.
- They are aware but they think you deserve it.
- They hope that when they are nice to you, you will open the door for them to violate you.
- They know if they were totally violating all the time they would be challenged.
- They believe violating you is their divine or ideological right and even responsibility.
- They actually do have nice qualities, like we all do, but also nasty ones.
- They think their actions are just slip-ups to be forgiven and forgotten.
- Their unconscious guilt motivates them to be nice to try to make up.
- This is more rare, but they just enjoy violating you.
Yes, I’m aware I’m saying “they”, as if the problem is with “them”. I’m aware that “we” are the problem. In a way. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that allows for bullying, violating, and abusing people. As the horrific story of Emma Sulkowicz proves, we do live in a rape culture.
It is our job, all of us, to point out violating ideas, words, and behaviors, without caution, hesitation and regret. I suspect that the more outspoken and just we become, the further underground and the more insidious will violations become. This includes all religions and their organizations, including Christianity, the church, and its various sub- and para-cultures. In fact, I would suggest that precisely in those places where we least expect violations to occur is exactly where the worst offenses will be perpetrated.
Therefore, I claim we need discernment, we need it now, and we need the courage to exercise it immediately.
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