#MeToo and the Blame Game

Photo credit: Stephen Rowland

A couple of months ago, a woman who is a member of the Sexual Assault Survivors Facebook group asked if she could contact me via FB Messenger. She needed someone to talk to and didn’t trust anyone else in the group or anyone in her “real” life. I said yes, and we struck up a friendship that has blessed me more than I think she realizes.

A couple of weeks ago, she asked if she could share with me the details of her #MeToo story. Her counselor had suggested she write it down and then share it with someone. She didn’t have anyone else she felt comfortable sharing it with. Again, I said yes.

As I read the details of her experience, anger burned in my soul. When I read her final paragraph, where she recounted how she felt, my heart broke. And the poem below began to form in my mind. With my new friend’s permission, I fashioned her words into a reminder that sexual assault survivors are not to blame for the fact that they were assaulted.

I do feel it’s important to warn you that this poem is graphic and may be disturbing. Actually, it should be disturbing because what was done to my friend is not okay.

Shared today at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night.

Where the Blame Belongs

It was a Thursday in early May. Two years ago.
Just an ordinary day when she went for a run alone.
Her earbuds blasted favorite work-out tunes.
The sun shone bright filtering dappled spots
through the pine trees onto the public park trail.

Should I have asked a friend to run with me? she asks.

If you’re wondering why she didn’t
then shame on you

for playing the blame game!

She never saw it coming as he came from behind,
two hands on her shoulders pushing her to the ground.
He pulled her hoodie over her head and face,
kicked her feet out from under her.
Her iPod, earbuds, and phone went flying.
He flipped her onto her back and she smelled
wet earth, moss, and leaves,
and the overpowering stench of booze and weed.

I shouldn’t have gone so deep into the woods,
I should have run in the safety of my neighborhood,
she says.

If you’re wondering why she didn’t
then shame on you

for buying into the blame game!

In a gruff voice she heard, Shut up and don’t fight,
then felt another pair of hands grab her arms
and pin them above her head, with a snicker.
She tried to kick the first guy, struggling to get free,
but then felt a third pair of hands grab her ankles.
It was three against one.

Could I have fought back harder? she asks.

If you think she should have
then shame on you

for fostering the blame game!

She shared the details of her nightmare with me.
How they each took a turn raping her in the dirt,
then used a beer bottle because having their ugliness
inside her just wasn’t enough for their sick pleasure
that ended with sodomy with a baseball bat.

Did I do everything I could to avoid this? she asks.

If you think she should have done more
then shame on you

for cultivating the blame game!

When they were finally done with their sadistic fun
they left her there in the dirt and leaves on the forest floor,
broken, bruised, and bleeding.
The pain excruciating.
She lay quiet, listening as they ran away laughing and
joking like they had just finished a game of basketball
instead of gang raping an innocent woman in the woods.

I feel bad sharing these details with you, she confided.

When she was sure they were gone, she pulled herself together,
and despite the pain she ran all the way home.

And she never told a soul until now—
when I said I was willing to listen
no matter how hard her story was to hear.

I am so ashamed that it happened, she lamented.

If you think she should be ashamed
then shame on you

for being part of the blame game!

And this is why I’m telling you all the sordid details
of what those three vile reprobates did to her—
So you will know where the blame belongs.

It belongs with them.

Not with her.
Not with her choice to run alone.
Not with her decision to run on a trail in the forest.
Not with her failure to fight back harder against three attackers.
Not with her.

Not ever with her.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


19 Responses

  1. This is so horrid to read, but more so why she would even think of blaming herself.
    I think most cases of rape and sexual assaults are untold.

    I stopped going swimming as a boy because of the predators that lurked in the locker-rooms… nothing ever happened, because I ran away and never came back… but I blamed myself a lot.

    • I blamed myself for my assault for a long time too, partly because I willingly went with him to the place it happened and he was my first boyfriend. To hear someone like my friend blame herself too tells me there is something very wrong with how we talk about and view sexual assault as a society. I can’t change it all by myself, but I can make my contribution to the cause.

  2. Oh no!!! I said it aloud and it still echoes in my brain. Horrible horrible and you did an admirable job of presenting without sensationalizing. Your comments in red are so effective. I am so glad she has you to talk to. Horrible that she felt she couldn’t report it but I understand that can be a sort of second rape. I wish I could wrap my arms around her. Please do so for me. xoox

  3. “Thank you, Lord, for giving Linda a willing heart and listening ears to embrace this woman with extraordinary, Jesus love. Thank you for Your healing and for your grace; grace that will take what was evil and use it for Your Glory so the enemy doesn’t get to deepen the wound within her. Please flood this daughter with Your indescribable peace. Thank you, again, for allowing Linda to be a part of this healing story. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

  4. I cannot stop sobbing ……… i was pushed up against an old splintered barn on a dark summer night …. I never told a soul.

    • Oh Helen, I am so sorry you had to experience this. Now you’ve told me, and that’s the first step to healing. As long as you keep the assault a secret, it has the power to make you feel as if maybe it was your fault — which it was not! I pray you will find your voice to share your story so that when it is in the light you will know where the blame belongs and that you are loved.

      • thank you …. for years I did blame myself. It happened in the 70s, thankfully I found my inner voice, strength and belief in myself. It was not my fault.

  5. Linda, the healing power of her being able to share her story with you is immense. Your validation to her, of listening, of caring, of loving her with her anguish means everything. <3 to her and to you.

  6. What an experience – thank you for giving her voice and sharing her story. This is very painful to read but she is not to blame for what happened to her.

  7. Thank you for giving her a voice. May she find peace, and may those miscreants suffer karmic revenge!

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