Dave's Corner of the Universe

Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide

A Generation of Predators: Should a Person Be Held Accountable for Something they did 20 Years Ago?

ESVM

ESVM has always been an example to me for  both her words but also courage,

 

Normally I try to focus on fun things here at DCotU, it is my and possibly your escape form the “real life issues” But an issue that recently hit the 24 hour news cycle that I feel that I need to address, this post is not about the accusations of sexual abuse by a man in power over 3 decades ago but instead is about our reaction as the American public to it.

 Recently there has been a public discussion on sexual assault surrounding the alleged sexual assault committed thirty years ago, by a man who was nominated to the supreme court. Though this dominated the 24-hour news cycle for more than a weak, the discussions that we have had about it has ben very superficial and we as a country are avoiding talking about an underlying problems with our society. I am taking a page out of Edna St Vincent Millay’s playbook and using her example with what she did with her pome Justice Denied in Massachusetts and  her amazing essay Fear, which was of course about the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, but she consciously doesn’t use their names, so that that the issues of immigrants and justice are not marred down in the details of one case, I will not refer to the cause celeb case in the press today but instead upon on the reactions that it triggered.  I ask that response too this post not be directly related to your opinions on that case.

 There has been a terrifying reaction to that afore hinted case that “The girl got what she deserved” “That all boys do it.” “That a good man should not be punished for a mistake made in his youth” I have seen memes on Facebook that have mocked sexual assault, and jokes dismissing the damage of abuse. People who pride themselves that they would never tell a joke with a sexual punchline posting comic memes about rape.

 Instead of the case that is in the news this morning, I have gotten permission from a friend to tell his story. Though we have been familiar with each other for a long time, this is something that he has only confided in me recently. Twenty years ago, he was the victim of a sexual abuse. In this case the abuser was female. He had the additional issue that he felt society was telling him that he should have enjoyed the abuse. Though this incident happened two decades ago, it was his first real sexual experience and would cause intimacy issues with his spouse and his own sexual development

 He buried it for twenty years, as he explained it to me it wasn’t like amnesias, it wasn’t like he had forgotten what happened, but he deliberately chose not to address it for over twenty years. When it came to him he would push out these thoughts replace them with something else, anything else.

 For some reason he felt comfortable enough to share these experiences with me and has agreed to allow me to post this after viewing a rough draft.

 For twenty years he lived with the guilt and the shame that someone else had attacked him. This prompted me to do some research and I was shocked to find out that it is believed that 80% of sexual assault are crimes of opportunities and not acts of a repeat sexual predator. This fact shocked me.

 He said that the woman who did this to him never apparently neve did it again, if he thought she might he would have surely reported it. Both he and I had been under the mistaken impression that sexual predators are either the “Ted Bundy” type sociopaths or the “Man in the van’ stereotype.

 It has been said that there is a generation of men who have committed some kind of sexual offense, and the question is “should we now hold them accountable for what they did as minors?”

 Now I understand the judicial necessity for the statute of limitations and I appreciate the difficulty of investigating a cold case. So, for this discussion we need to separate legal and moral consequences.

 I have another friend who has taken on the crusade of defending men who have been falsely accused of sexual crimes. I respect him and many of his statements. Of course, I do not support making up lies to harm someone. The cold reality however is, that for every one case of false reports there are hundreds if not thousands of unaddressed sexual attacks.

 We Americans like out memes. They are simple they are catchy and often funny, in a picture and a quip an entire rational argument and logic can be countered. We hate to look to deeply at things, we hate to look at the root causes, we hate to admit that maybe things in our world are not perfect.  It is easier to stand behind “our politician” than have a deep conversation with possibly unsettling answers about whether a person who committed a sexual assault, be held accountable two, three or more decades later.

 Again, I return to my friend who said after all these years, “All I wanted was for her to apologize and say she was sorry for all the damage that she had done to me. But, I am never going to get that.”

 For someone who writes as much as I do I will admit that I think English is a rotten language for expressing things that we have not thought about or encountered before. My friend is an Atheist and much of my terminology comes from a Christian background, this created some difficulty in the discussion at first.

 The only word that I could come up with is repent. He originally balked at this word because there was such a religious connotation to it. We agreed for this discussion, we would set the religious and spiritual background of the word to the side.

 In this case I explained that part of the concept of repentance I was brought up with included making amends with the person who was wronged. In my friends’ case it would be willingness for his abuser  to apologize.

 The damage done by rape and other forms of sexual abuse  is eternal. I understand that for the person committing the act it may seem like a case of youthful folly but to the person it is inflected on it is eternal. The damage can go one for generations and effect entire families.

 Those who are calling for blanket forgiveness for people who committed sexual crimes decades old, are mainly conseritive Christians who are omitting part of their own beliefs system. So, should we forgive though who have done something years ago and want to live a normal life. The answer is only if they have” repented.”

 Now remember I am using a religious word because I could not find a secular  one. Though most dominations consider that repentance primarily and act between the sinner and their God. In this discussion we are bluntly leaving the concept of God out and using the word in an entirely secular way. The offender needs to admit to themselves that they have committed something that may have decades of damaging and unforeseen consequences, and come to the person that they have hurt and ask for forgiveness and attempt to make amends.

 There are some victims who may not want their abuser to ask forgiveness, and who feel they cannot forgive. THAT IS THEIR RIGHT. In no way am I am suggesting this should be used to replace  legal channels, for sexual assault cases that can still be perused by the justice system. In no way is a two-page treatiese going to solve the problems that arise by the damage done by sexual assault and abuse. To thinks so is as wrong as assuming that memes might convey clear and precise answers. There is no one right answer, but there are a lot of wrongs one. One answer could be right in one case, but wrong in another.

 Like always I am not saying I have the answers, I have the answers I can live with for now. I am not trying to change anyone’s mind I am just trying to get people to think about issues, in a way that may be potential difficult and painful for us as Americans.

 I am open all responses even with people who disagree with me. I only ask that we do not distract form a general problem by focusing the case du jur with its politics.

 Promise next time I will get back to Sci fi, monsters and comic books, thanks for listening to me. Love you all.

 Dave.

 

 

6 comments on “A Generation of Predators: Should a Person Be Held Accountable for Something they did 20 Years Ago?

  1. Lolsy's Library
    September 22, 2018

    My major problem with the whole reaction with people who say why didn’t she report it then, while threatening and blasting her personal details all over the Internet. While saying that Kavaughn has an impeccable record, except he hasn’t, he’s been lying…a lot. It’s just the people pushing him to get confirmed, don’t care about that…For some reason,lol.
    I think America is going through major awakenings right now!

  2. Elizabeth
    September 22, 2018

    To me, the whole thing is cultural. When I was young, these things were just part of life. Shit happens kind of mentality. So, in my day, if anyone set up a meeting. In his hotel room alone with you, you took a friend. Your boyfriend was taken home to vet by your family. Women didn’t get totally bladdered drinking because that was considered repulsive. We wore clothing that covered our bits. I’m in the UK and I lived in Africa when I was young. That culture was, again, different. Those women had a very shit happens mentality. And still do. But the difference is they share their pain within their community. Sometimes it is swiftly dealt with by the matriarch.

    This fixation with old sexual assaults that ruined our lives is a Western fashion. The idea that such experiences HAVE to ‘ruin’ us is the actual problem. So now the perpetrators have to be punished for behaving in a way that was thought not unusual in those times. What we see is a vendetta against men.

    Women have been on the recieving end of violence by men for all of history. It’s a shame. But it’s true.And we women have used our wiles too, to change things, not by bleating poor me and becoming victims. The power behind men are their women.

    People in Western countries know very much less sexual assault than happen in other cultures. Shit happens in many ways; place of birth, culture, accidents, disabilities, death, illnesses, old age, family schisms, etc, and the way forward is to acknowledge it and get on with living and changing the future. We must stop being victims of our pasts. Well, that’s the way I feel as an old wise woman to whom a lot of shit has happened.

    • davekheath
      September 22, 2018

      An interesting international perspective, I have to admit that is a lot for me to think about.

      • Mike Jones
        June 10, 2019

        Truly international perspective begins with learning Esperanto.

  3. Brian Bixby
    September 22, 2018

    Tough topic, and definitely not your usual blog post. But it is YOUR blog. So, good for you for going with this.

    I’m certainly annoyed at the memes which suggest that the woman just came up with this at the last minute to derail a nomination. Somehow her talk with her therapist years ago drops out of that line of “reasoning.” And the fact that the GOP is hellbent on getting Kavanaugh confirmed for the October 1 beginning of the Supreme Court session should not preclude an investigation.

    I did like your concern around repentance. It’s something that in a constructive sense has vanished from our culture. Get convicted of a crime and serve time in prison, and it hangs around your neck for the rest of your life. When do we say a criminal has expiated his crimes? Apparently never. And yet there’s also the far too easy atonement: “I did wrong, but Jesus has forgiven me,” usually said just after some celebrity is caught out, with no sign of any real contrition on the celebrity’s part.

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2018 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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