The Paw Print

Blow the whistle

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This past month or so, the atmosphere in both Hollywood and the government has been tumultuous, resulting in a distraught United States. Dozens of men, women, and children have come forward claiming to have been sexually assaulted by many males in the limelight ranging from producers like Harvey Weinstein to actors like Kevin Spacey, comedians like Louis C.K., and politicians like Roy Moore, Al Franken, and President Donald Trump himself. The revelations came as shocking to some, but not to many. The reckoning of assailants is finally occurring and it’s long overdue.

Most of the time, the news feels very far from home. What’s happening in the Middle East or inside the White House may feel concerning, but it’s not something that captivates large portions of our minds daily or directly affects our physical or mental well being. However, this feels different. Many men and women are sexually harassed and assaulted. I can say with confidence that every woman has dealt with some kind of harassment from men, from being catcalled to being followed in their car or worse. It’s simply a regular occurrence in the life of a woman. And not just women, but men too. Boys and men are assaulted as well, and this fact often gets overlooked for many reasons varying from “good for you, another notch on the belt” to “you must feel pretty special.” It’s seen as an achievement for a man to have to experience unwanted sexual advances rather than as a physical and mental attack.

As Christians, we believe that we were created in God’s image. Our bodies declare His majesty and that is why they are temples. In the Bible, sexuality is presented as a loving, intimate exchange between a husband and wife in an an environment where the temples that are our bodies are treated with love. It’s an act of worship that brings God’s creation closer to the intimacy found in Eden. This is why, as Christians, sexual assault is especially detrimental

Sexual assault and harassment from a Christian perspective is the act of disrespecting one of God’s beloved temples, either directly or indirectly, by viewing the body as simply an object for one’s own selfish use and pleasure. Sexual assault survivors often struggle with dissociation, PTSD, self-worth issues, substance abuse, depression, fear, sexual dysfunction, shame, and many end up committing suicide. Sexuality is an extremely private thing. For the many men and women finally coming out and sharing their stories, knowing that their relationships with friends and family will not be the same is a prevalent threat. They have exposed something extremely painful and personal, something that is unfortunately a large part of their identity.

This is not a small issue. Being sexually assaulted in any way affects the rest of someone’s life and the lives of those around them. It should never, ever be taken lightly. To take it lightly is to have ignorance or lack empathy on the subject. A beautiful piece of God’s creation is distorted into something deeply distressing by repulsive men and women who care only for themselves and their own selfish needs, blind to the sacred intimacy destroyed by their own groping, desperate, poisonous hands.  

The world is riddled with these people: people who see what they want and take it without permission or consent. They steal. And that is not okay. These people cannot get away with it, cannot continue to nurture this behavior in themselves and others, robbing the people they steal from of innocence, a childhood, and healthy relationships. Being a whistleblower requires a lot of strength. It brings attention to an aspect of your core that you wouldn’t want to bring attention to, much less shine a spotlight on. It exposes vulnerability. But it is necessary.

Let’s not see this reckoning as limited to Hollywood or the government. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, speak up. Do not let this person get away with what they have done to you or someone you love. This beast, with its claws all over the world, needs to be given a face. A name. You have that power.

If you feel that you have been sexually assaulted in any way, seek help. Go to a therapist. Talk to a close friend. Do not lock the feelings inside. And when you’re ready, blow the whistle. You’ll contribute to ending something that never should have existed in the first place.

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