If you are someone who has experienced sexual violence, this has been a hell of a week.
I truly cannot begin to imagine what you have been through these past few days. It's wrong. I am personally sorry for the pain you've experienced, and for the ways I have in the past been complicit in the systems that brought us to this moment.
If you are a survivor, you've carried the burden long enough, much longer than you should ever have had to. It's time for the rest of us to get off our individual and collective butts and stop being complicit.
If you are a survivor, you are not alone and it is not your fault, period. It doesn't matter who you are, who you love, how you identify, how you dress, or what you've done/not done; it is not your fault.
You may feel (justifiably so) after this past week that people will not believe you if you ever come forward.
It's completely up to you whether you ever come forward. If you do choose to come forward, there are people who will listen to you and believe you, without requiring you to share another word or a single detail. I am one of those people, and there are plenty of others out there, including the hosts of The Liturgists, and even a great many people of faith with whom I'd be more than happy to connect you. After a week in which leaders and thinkers on faith and spirituality were too often conspicuously silent, The Liturgists (and Science Mike in particular) have been for me both a breath of fresh air and a bracing challenge to do better.
I am in awe of Mike McHargue (better known as Science Mike) coming forward in his Ask Science Mike podcast this week to talk about his own experience as a survivor. I am in awe of the eloquence and strength with which he addresses his own difficulty in speaking out (he waited decades too), as well as the difficult-to-hear statistics about assault and the difficult-to-have conversations we MUST have about consent, particularly affirmative consent. We have to change the culture of all of the United States around sexual assault and make it unacceptable, and he expresses this with more clarity and conviction than I possibly could.
We have to believe survivors.
N.B. -- I encourage my friends far and wide to listen to this indispensable podcast episode IF you are able and ready, BUT please know that it includes frank discussions of sexual violence and you should NOT listen if you know you aren't ready. If you are a survivor and you know these discussions may cause you to be triggered/activated/re-traumatized, you are well within your rights to take a pass on any such discussion. You are well within your rights to turn off your news notifications, disconnect your Twitter app, and avoid podcasts like this one, especially this week. I would no more expect you to wade into this week's news than I would expect a soldier with PTSD to attend 4th of July fireworks. There is no shame in waiting until you are ready to listen to these sorts of conversations. Survivors are my heroes this week, and getting out of bed in the morning is more than I would ask of myself in your shoes (much less listening to an entire podcast on the topic).
That being said, my friends, the indispensable wisdom and courage of Science Mike...
[Ask Science Mike - September 26, 2018 - Episode 163 - Sexual Violence]