Archives For November 2010

Had no idea what to write about this morning until I read my online local newspaper this morning.  Headline:  Supporters of teacher who had sex with student flood judge.

A 32-year old teacher had sex with one of his 15-year old students (at a Christian school!) and he was sentenced to 8 to 40 years in prison. He cried in the courtroom saying how sorry he was for what he’d done.  He received over 100 letters of support from people around the country, asking the judge for leniency. According to the newspaper, principals, teachers, nurses, and youth workers wrote letters stating that this teacher was not a predator, not a monster, not a long-term threat, but could continue to have a positive impact on other’s lives. They apparently wrote that he is one of the best teachers they’ve ever seen and that their children benefited from having him as their teacher. One person wrote that he thinks he is a model of Christian faith, despite his actions. Parents and students apparently loved this guy; they didn’t know what side of the courtroom to sit on, they said, because they wanted to support both the teacher and the student. Right.

Did anyone care about how the victim and her family might feel?

Apparently not. The people gushed over this teacher. One woman said that she would have her children be in his classroom in a heartbeat. She thinks he’s just a man who lost his way and that nothing good will come from his being in jail.

No, no one who loves this man cares one bit about this young girl. The newspaper reports that the victim and her family feel ostracized. Of course they do!  They feel completely abandoned and alone. She’s left the school and attending another.

Isn’t it ironic that the victim is the one they’ve left by the side of the road and they run to the one who “beat her up” and left her there? Is it because he’s crying and saying he’s sorry? What, do they want her to stand up real quick, dust herself off, and say, “Oh, Mr. So-and-so, it’s OK, I know you’re sorry. I forgive you.”

What about this girl?!  She’s hurting!  He hurt her! What about her pain? I’m sickened and appalled at these people who call themselves Christians who are so open and public about their support of this man who hurt her! They’re willing to sacrifice this young girl so that they can protect this man. I don’t even know what to say about this except that this is evil at work.

They should be open about their support of this girl, not this man who took advantage of one of his students. The victim’s father asked a pointed question of the two pastors’s who wrote letters of support for the teacher. He asked if it was their 15 year old daughter that he had sex with, if they would have asked the judge for mercy.  Neither pastor responded. Hm. That says a lot doesn’t it. Where is the love?

Sexual assault, rape, incest, sexual abuse; these all carry with it such a deep level of shame. The blame immediately goes inward. And to make it all worse, people like the supporters of this teacher blame the victim. They blame the victim by publicly supporting the man.

What do we do when we realize that what we thought was a friendship may not be? What if we thought someone was a friend, but we find out that we are not as valued as we thought we were?

That happened to me. I’ve realized with one particular person I’m the “back-up friend.”  The one you call when no one else is around. The one you talk to when your other friends aren’t at the party yet. I’m the friend you’ll do things with when your other friends are busy. One time, I helped this friend move from one house to another. I remember she fluctuated from ignoring me to being snippy with me that day and at one point she called me into her bedroom and frantically asked me to help her change her bed sheets because her best friend was coming and she didn’t want her to see her dirty sheets.

It really hurt to finally see the picture. At first I could hardly face it.  I didn’t want to look at it. I felt a sense of shame, like if I looked at the image of our “friendship” I’d see something wrong with me. But as I’m getting more clarity, I’m feeling less like that. I’m not as afraid to accept this relationship for what it is. It may not be a friendship, per se, but it is a relationship in which I can love her.  I won’t be a doormat, but I can love her more intentionally.

I have true friends who love me. As a matter of fact, a true friend pointed this out to me (Proverbs 27:6.) I don’t know where this “back-up friendship” will go; I care about her, but I’m not sure I want to continue being second string.  Many of us have friendships that are difficult like this and it hurts. Often we don’t know what to do. Maybe if we blog about it, it will help.

Leaving is Love

Allison Stevens —  November 1, 2010 — 15 Comments

I’d like to share my perspective on abusive relationships.

If a wife is married to an abusive husband, she is not safe. If a marriage is categorized as abusive, it’s dangerous. There are not degrees of safety. That’s like saying that living in a cage with a lion has degrees of danger; it just matters how much the lion gnaws on your leg as to how dangerous it is. No, if you’re in that cage, you’re in harms way.

And the best option for her is to find a safe plan to leave. Sadly, by the numbers of women who’ve been murdered by their estranged husbands, this doesn’t guarantee safety. However, for the majority, leaving a precarious relationship can help a woman begin a new life of freedom and dignity that she had long forgotten.

We act as if we can give permission to abused spouses to leave their marriages only if it’s “really bad” and only if you do it out of a heart of love. I say, abuse is always really bad and love is always there whether you’re aware of it or not.  If a woman leaves a mean man, only for the reason that he’s mean, she is doing it for love; love for herself, her children, and maybe even a rudimentary love for her husband. Love isn’t always as evolved as we want it to be, but it’s love just the same. Leaving is love because she’s seeking dignity by doing so; hers and his.  

We’re missing a pivotal point if we put the burden on the abused spouse when we tell her that she shouldn’t separate because the abuse isn’t bad enough, or that her abusive husband is willing to go to counseling (most abusers are!). In an article I read that was referenced in the last blog, it said that in abusive relationships, “it is sometimes healthy and wise to separate.” (italics added) I wish it had read, “It is usually healthy and wise to separate.” We talk about abusive relationships as if we’re granting some sort of sanction to a small percentage of battered women that “well, mostly it’s good to stay in an abusive relationship, but there are times when it’s healthy to leave.”  What?  I think it’s just the opposite.  Mostly it’s appropriate to separate. I just wish we’d end the pressure we put on abused wives to keep putting up with the abuse.

I’m all for healing from abuse, healing for the abuser, and restoration in marriage! I believe in it and I know God changes hearts so that a husband and wife can live in freedom and with dignity. And I don’t think that what I’m saying contradicts the Jesus I know. God loves us and sent His only Son to die for us! Why would He want us to willingly live in abusive homes when we live in a country where freedom is there for anyone? I just don’t think the burden we put on abused spouses is right. Domestic violence is illegal and we’ve got to realize that the laws of our land regarding domestic violence align with Scripture about how we are to treat one another.