The Unbearable Kindness

assume

He made me feel sorry for him. It was one of his strongest defenses. Whenever I began to question his treatment of me, instead of responding he would tell me about horrible things that had happened to him. He would cry. I mean full-on weep about being bullied as a child (he did not get the irony that he was a current adult and I a minor), talk about his family’s dysfunctions, his own time spent in institutions. All of this drowned out my protests, making my voice smaller and smaller as the waves of his emotions flooded my lungs.

 

It was such a strange turn around- me crying after he raped me, and then him weeping and asking me for comfort. I would have his head in my lap, and feel like I needed to tell him it was okay. The thing is, an adult can outsmart a child every time. I had no prior experience with which to gauge the level of his utter bullshit.

 

And then there was the unbearable kindness. It would crush me with guilt. It would give me pause before I said anything against him. He would grandly proclaim his love for me. He praised my smallest accomplishments. He gave me gifts. I liked what he liked. I was less sure what I liked if you took him out of the equation. If I expressed interest in anything he didn’t like, he made sure I knew it was stupid and I was mistaken. He would overlook my lapses in judgment because I was, after all, so young.

 

The kindness extended to the crying times. He would try to repair my wounds. He would cry and apologize. He would fold me into his muscular arms and hold me while he prayed for our souls, or just say he was sorry. Or he would softly blame me with compliments- I was too pretty; he could not control himself around me. He would lie and tell me he needed to hurt me so he wouldn’t hurt anyone else (Liar-he raped others). I was special, and he loved me so very much.

 

I think the kindness was one of the most dangerous aspects to the abuse. When I was trying to learn good people from bad people, I didn’t realize bad people could be nice. I thought they were always obviously bad- walking around with horns or something. His kindness made it hard to throw him into the BAD category where he belonged. People liked him. He had friends. I had to learn that people have both good and bad qualities, and that sometimes what appears good is actually bad.

 

Rapists can give gifts. They can have friends. They can wear stylish clothing. They can be charming. But I won’t ever listen to their crying again.

33 jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions from Accelerated Christian Education

“The most obvious way ACE is crap is in its multiple choice questions (of which there are thousands). Here, for your general amusement, are some I found yesterday. I make no claim that these are the best (or worst) of it. They’re just a few I dug up in a cursory jaunt through the PACEs I have. I could go on much, much longer.

This is what happens when you leave education to people for whom religious conversion is everything and learning is a distant afterthought. ”

-Jonny Scaramanga

 

She’s a Witch!

 84123-Monty-Python-burn-the-witch-gi-EzMU

(Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

His mother told him she had seen demons around me. I had heard of overprotective mothers, but this was ridiculous. What was worse is that this guy believed his mom. He offered to pray for me. Guys- a word of advice: It is a complete mood killer to tell your date that you are praying for her immortal soul.

I actually tried to convince him I was not possessed, which is a sad thing to admit. It seems like something you would not have to do, but, alas… For some of us who grew up in a fundamentalist back ground this is par for the course. It’s eerily similar to the Monty Python skit about the witch. People love killing witches. It doesn’t matter what you do once someone decides they have seen the evil in you, either. Everyone else is dying for some entertainment, so now they see those damn demons too.

Were you physically attractive to someone? You are a witch. Did you dye your hair? Hate to break it to you, but you are a witch. Did you read books about evolution? You invited satan and his evil hosts in, sweetheart, and you are most certainly a witch. Did you eat cheese? Heavy cream sauces? Did you drink caffeine? Did you pierce your ears? Good heavens, gather round, we have ourselves a witch!

The prayers were flung at me hot with accusations. They were tawdry, these prayers. I don’t know why I still had the capability of being shocked after everything, but there I was. Shocked into silence, staring at this guy who claimed he loved me.

 After that point, he treated me with less respect. I can’t believe I must say there was an after that point… I try to give myself a break- I was young, okay?! After all this talk of demons, the guy still claimed he was interested in marriage. At that time, I thought of myself as damaged goods. I was convinced I should take what I could get.
 
One day I burned my back pretty badly on a hot radiator. My sister was spending time with us, and was surprised at how callously he treated my medical needs. She was an awesome sister and shared her concerns with me. I blew her off that day, but it stuck in my mind.

Shortly after that, we were in a car accident. As the car spun out of control, my delusions about being a good wife were shattered. I knew if I lived, I did not want to live like this. I could not marry someone who saw evil in me. I could not be expected to confess my bullshit sins to some judgmental preacher. I would never allow myself to be subjected to a Monty Pythonesque mob of witch haters again.

I ended the relationship. No one has accused me of being possessed since.

Excuses, Excuses

 After I disclose my history of sexual abuse in a religious setting, I know I will hear arguments. Usually, I brush them aside as irrelevant, but I know a lot of people are swayed.

 Here are some prime arguments:

Rape happens everywhere.

They weren’t really christians, so it doesn’t count.

You shouldn’t talk about this. You seem angry. If you ask god to open your heart to forgiveness, you will be free.

Rape happens everywhere. I know. The statistics are heart breaking: Every 2 minutes, another American is sexually assaulted. There is an average of 267,868 victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault each year. 44% of victims are under age 18.
 *statistics from www.rainn.org

 But I am not talking about everywhere. I am talking about my personal experience, which was in a religious community that had a culture of rape. The fact that people are raped outside of this context does not make my personal experiences carry less weight. Religion should not exempt the abusers from taking responsibility.

The fact is that the religious environment I was in fostered an abusive atmosphere that made repeated abuse possible. One problem is that it was insular. People are indoctrinated to fear the outside world, and that anyone seeking outside help is inviting the devil in. How easy for a rapist to commit crimes when everyone in the community works to shame the victim into silence! There is no recourse for a victim of sexual assault when his/her community condemns seeking help.

Then there is the victim blaming that is justified using scripture. People are taught that it is a girl’s responsibility to not tempt grown men. Virginity culture proclaimed anyone who strayed outside the marriage bed was sinful. Somehow rape victims were included in the list of adulterers. I was told by church propaganda that a touched girl was dirty, and then had the idea reinforced by my abusers. It was cemented when I dared to disclose the abuse and was called a slut, and blamed for my various infractions (such as having male friends, wearing makeup, being worldly) by members of the community. I stress: I was a minor being called a whore by adults because other adults had raped me. As I wrote in this post, one of my rapists who admitted to his crimes was readily forgiven, and provided sympathy because of everything I had put him though.

I’ve been assured that the people I dealt with weren’t really christians, so it doesn’t count. I can now experience god’s real love through their church. This hardly deserves a response. Who can decide who is really a christian, and why should that lessen the pain of having experienced abuse justified by the bible?

This brings me to forgiveness. I believe in forgiving small mistakes, for example if someone accidentally knocked over my favorite tea cup. If they apologized and it was truly a mistake, I would forgive them. If, instead, they brutally raped me and then demanded my forgiveness while continuing to abuse me I tend to be less forgiving. The rapist needs me to forgive so I can be a participant. He can use my forgiveness as a way to avoid possible punishment. If anyone says something accusatory to him, he will point out that he has my forgiveness so it wasn’t all that bad.
 
 If a community intent on keeping everything private demands I forgive because it was prayed about I still do not need to forgive. If people who are not even part of the community hear my story and believe I should forgive, I still don’t need to forgive. Some things don’t deserve forgiveness- Especially when no steps have been taken to ensure it does not happen again (sorry, prayer doesn’t count). In fact, there is no reason at all that I need to say I forgive my abusers. I don’t. I don’t need to. It will not release me. I released myself when I left the community that they flourish in.

I am angry. I feel it is a justified anger. I don’t know how anyone could hear about systematic abuse of children and not be angry. People know these things are happening, but because the rapist is crying religious freedom he is left alone. It baffles me. There is no group of people with a greater need to protect than children- certainly not a religious institution.

 

Little Sisters by Stuart Perrin

little-sisters-stuart-perrin-paperback-cover-art

 Reblogged from Stuart Perrin

About Little Sisters — Author’s Preface

For more than twenty years I lived, studied and traveled in Nepal and India as an integral part of my learning, ongoing research, and deep interest in the ancient art and religions of South Asia’s respective cultures.

In 1992, my distinguished colleague, Kristina Carlson Jones moved to Kathmandu to open a meditation center. She contacted me in New York and told me about children being abducted and trafficked into sexual slavery. She had met a Nepalese doctor, Aruna Uprety, who detailed the horror of how girls between 10 and 14 years were being bought by sex traffickers in the hinterlands of Nepal for transport to brothels on Falkland Road in Bombay (Mumbai).

In an instant I understood.

“That’s horrible, ” I said to her. “This has to be our work. We must find a way to protect these children. ”

Thus the Bahini (“Little Sister” in Nepalese) Foundation was born, one of the first organizations of its kind in Nepal.

Within a few months, we set up a safe house to provide shelter for the children. We worked closely with Dr. Uprety to identify young girls who were prime targets for sex traders. We went to families in poverty stricken villages and showed them there was an alternative to Falkland Road brothels. At that time, the income of these families was about $15.00 to $20.00 a year. A girl could easily bring $200.00 from a trafficker — and more if she was a virgin. The family would no longer have to worry about raising money for her dowry. She would go to Bombay, Delhi or Calcutta to “work”. No one in the village knew exactly what kind of work, but they all hoped she would send money home to help the family survive.

In a matter of weeks, it became clear — the plight of these prepubescent children was heartbreaking. After many difficult months spent looking for and identifying girls who were potential targets for sex traders, we convinced a few families to forgo the money they could make selling their children and entrust them to the Foundation’s care, and hopefully a dignified future.

It wasn’t easy to do and often we weren’t successful, but a number of girls came to live in a large house the Foundation had rented in Kathmandu. We enrolled them in school, fed and sheltered them. Even in the safety of the Bahini House, we had to remain vigilant to keep them from the clutches of sex traffickers. We also welcomed women and their children who had escaped from brothels in Mumbai.

On one occasion, at the risk of her life, Kristina Carlson Jones outfitted as a nurse, went into the Falkland Road hellhole of brothels in Mumbai to document the dismal condition of young girls who were sold to traffickers. Had the brothel owners known what Kristina was really up to, most likely they would have killed her.

When children (no matter what their nationality, ethnicity or religion) are forced to become sex slaves or are kidnapped so that their kidneys can be surgically removed and sold on the black market, the entire world must take responsibility.

 

The Nepalese Government kept the sex trafficking business under wraps. It was an embarrassment, something no one in Nepal would speak about. Occasionally, a high-ranked politician would furtively show up with tears in his eyes and thank us for helping his people. By and large, the world has until today remained indifferent to the plight of these Nepalese girls and has essentially ignored the most despicable criminal horror ever inflicted on innocent children.

One of the Foundation’s goals was to school the brightest of these children in the West. It was our hope that through education, they would return to Nepal as doctors, teachers, economists, mathematicians and scientists, and thus help to raise the economic and social conditions of the Nepalese people and eliminate the sex trade.

In time, the Bahini Foundation became part of R. H. E. S. T. (Rural Health and Education Service Trust of Nepal) — a Nepalese NGO headed by Dr. Uprety. It is run under that name until this day. Dr. Uprety recently told us that the creation of the Bahini Foundation has helped to save at least 8,500 innocent girls from sexual slavery.

Today, the Internet, mass media, and inexpensive jet travel have shrunk the size of our planet to a global village. We now know that the sex slavery network is as prevalent in the West as it is in South Asia. The subject of sex trafficking has emerged from the back pages of newspapers and has been included in a few public-awareness audiovisual programs. International organizations are taking stock of the situation and will hopefully intervene with some degree of efficiency.

When children (no matter what their nationality, ethnicity or religion) are forced to become sex slaves or are kidnapped so that their kidneys can be surgically removed and sold on the black market, the entire world must take responsibility.

Little Sisters arises from my direct experience and awareness of the pain and redemptive passion felt by real people concerned with these issues. I want the reader to become graphically aware of what life is like in the Mumbai red-light district. Beyond revealing the horrors of sex slavery as others have in documentary style, I have endeavored, through fiction, to render the intolerable fate suffered by four sisters at the hands of sex merchants and how each of them is transformed by life in a Mumbai brothel in dramatically different and unpredictable ways.