Even if…

I once got pick-pocketed and thanked the thief who robbed me! Seriously. Who does that?? A kind-hearted person, who was preyed upon by a criminal – that’s who. I used to be really embarrassed that I actually thanked a robber until I realized that I had nothing to be ashamed of.

I was traveling in a foreign country. I was in the company of a native, whom I knew and trusted. A few years earlier, my husband and I had hosted a foreign exchange student. We were riding the subway in downtown Madrid with our former exchange-student when it happened. I was wearing a fanny pack with my driver’s license, some cash and a credit card. The subway was very crowded, so we were all standing very close to one another. A man tapped me on the shoulder, and pointed out to me that there was something really gross on my right shoulder. He started “helping me” get it off, making quite a production of it. This little drama allowed his partner to unzip my pack and remove its contents easily while I was distracted. When the train doors opened at the next stop, the object finally came lose and the man who was “helping me” got off the train. As he left, I smiled and waved, telling him “Gracias!”

A few minutes later, when I realized what had happened, I felt more violated by the fact that I had thanked him than I did about the loss of my card and license.

If you listen to rape culture, and apply its thinking, I wasn’t really robbed. After all, I am a generous person, so I might have given him the money if I were asked, and I knowingly went into a risky environment, wearing my valuables in plain sight. And, then there’s the fact that I not only didn’t object, I thanked him. No one is that naïve, right?

The minister who raped me at 15 also robbed me. He robbed me of my innocence and my virginity. And just because I didn’t object, and even though I worshiped him and thought he loved me, it was still rape. Once I realized the crime that was committed on me, I was very ashamed and embarrassed that I was used and abused in this way and so naïve…until I realized that I have nothing to be ashamed of.  I was a kind-hearted person who was preyed upon by a criminal.

Almost everyone who is sexually abused is somehow made to think that they were at least partially to blame, but that is a lie. Please, don’t believe it. Even if you didn’t object. Even if you thanked him. Even if…

Know this – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

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