Review – What Is a Girl Worth, by Rachel Denhollander

It’s occasionally difficult to distill any book, particularly one of this weight, into words. This is a book that should never have needed to be written, and it is one of the most powerfully affecting books that I’ve ever read. This book is deeply challenging, and it is entirely possible to experience a huge range of emotions while reading it; I routinely cycled through anger, frustration, compassion, joy, and sadness as I turned pages in it. There are more than a few times when I had to put the book down and walk away from it simply because it was too emotionally demanding to continue reading, as this subject generally is. Other passages, particularly near the end, moved me to tears.

For those who do not know the story, Rachael Denhollander was sexually abused by Larry Nassar while in her early teens during treatment for injuries received as a result of gymnastics. As someone who had previously been a victim of abuse, it did not take a long time for Rachael to realize that what Nassar had done was wrong and illegal, but she writes eloquently about how tightly she kept that secret because the entire family was fully aware that Nassar was untouchable due to his associations with MSU and especially the US Gymnastics program. She not only painstakingly documented what happened to her, but also built an entire library of information in the hopes that one day someone out there would provide an opening that would allow him to face justice. That opening was provided by the investigative team at the Indianapolis Star1 many years later, after she believed her opportunity to press charges had expired, in a story about the coverup of abuse in the US Olympic program.

I think this book will be a huge encouragement or challenge to three groups of people. The first group is for survivors2 themselves. For those who have been through the trauma of any kind of abuse, learning to vocalize what happened to themselves and even to be courageous enough to talk about it are the first two major steps in their recovery. Abuse victims come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them have learned that the best way to “deal” with their trauma is to try and will it away or to bury it under layered internal defenses, which is yet another educational aspect of the book. For Rachael in particular, it meant repeatedly testifying about what was done in graphic detail to reporters, police, court, and the media. Now she is testifying to it in excruciating and personal detail in this book. Most survivors will not ever do this, as the cost is simply too high. Rachael, on the other hand, is very forward and blunt with the description, but her pointedness is for our own good. If we couch the realities of abuse in polite language, it can diffuse the power and weight of the truth we need to know. For this reason alone I would recommend the book to anyone.

The second group of people are those of us who may be aware of the case and are interested in her story from an insider’s point of view. I know that I first heard about Rachael through the sentencing hearing and closing witness statement, which has now been seen more than a million times via different channels on YouTube.3 These people may be familiar with the case but not the dynamics of abuse or the criminal justice system, and this book should come as a shocking and eye-opening expośe into how abusers can co-opt everyone into silent complicity and erect walls of protection that not only buffer them from accusation but also prevent the victims from ever going forward and continually opens up new avenues for further exploitation.

The third group of people that this book should challenge are those charged with shepherding people4 in their local church. This is traditionally the role of pastors, elders, and deacons, but it should also include those who are responsible for children’s ministries, Sunday School, VBS leaders, and community outreach team members as well. Because the church is generally a volunteer-lead, volunteer-run ministry to the community-at-large, we are particularly susceptible to those who may appear as angels of light but who may have evil intent. Having abuse prevention policies are good, helpful, and are legally necessary but having an understanding of the methodologies of predators will help us understand our own cultural blind spots as well. This book will give you some exposure to understanding the things to look for from predators and more importantly, people who are being groomed for abuse or abused at home. This is an area that we traditionally do not cover well or in detail in our counseling materials, and many of the resources that we might look to for guidance generally do not do a good job of handling the topic of abuse.

In addition, those who lead the church must develop (if they do not already have) the necessary discernment and fortitude to engage with those who are adept at spin and misdirection. Perhaps some of our churches would not carry the reputations they do if the pastors had learned to look beyond the façade of trusting “friends” and supporters and seen the hideous realities underneath, which leads into my next point.

One major thought that went through my head as I read the book was “what would have happened if Rachael were in my church and she didn’t have the background and training that she did?” If Rachael had come into my church as an overweight mother of four that lived in a mobile home, or as an angry seventeen-year-old African American teenager who kept mouthing back to me, or a sullen and withdrawn boy who kept running away from his home…would I have listened to them? Would I have acted to get at the real issue instead of what was being presented? Would I have even known how to get past the external shell and at the heart of the issues that were really going on? To my shame, I have to say that I might not have done that. That’s a terrifying proposition, because we will receive judgment on the basis of all the works that we have done, including our thoughts. James is very clear to warn us of the dangers of being selective shepherds in James 2:1-13, and Matthew 25:40-45 reminds us of our responsibility to care for the naked, hungry, thirsty and imprisoned. How much of a prison is being abused by someone and yet unable to get someone to believe that you were? Do we really want to follow the model of the priest and Levite, who saw the beaten man on the Jericho road and callously cross over to the other side5? Are abuse victims not our neighbors too?

I could easily spend a dozen more pages talking about how important and educational this book is, and still never be a line closer to finishing, and I haven’t even touched on her ability to write or many other aspects of the book. God has specifically used her grit, fortitude, and determination in our day to tear aside the veils of secrecy that shrouds this topic. You must read this book, and I’d encourage that any schools or universities that are in the business of training ministers to make it required reading for their students. I wish I had this book years ago, when I was in undergrad or seminary…but I have it now, and others can read and learn from it too. Go buy it now!

Notes

1 https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2016/09/12/former-usa-gymnastics-doc….

2 Abuse victims do not generally like to be called victims, but survivors.

3 291,000 views (WXYZ TV), 346,000 (CNN), 293,000  (MLive), and 72,000 (USA Today) channels.  This is a small gathering completed on 8/27/19.

4 Luke 10:29-37.

5 Luke 10:25-37.

Jay Camp bio


Jay Camp holds a MA and a BA in Pastoral Studies from Bob Jones University and Northland Baptist Bible College (later Northland International University). He serves at Fishkill Baptist Church in Fishkill, NY in many different capacities and is married to his wife of fifteen years.

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LGCarpenter's picture

No, I understand your claim completely, LaVern, and the trouble is that it simply happens to be false.  "Guilt" and "blame" are synonymns, so when Mark says the family is "guilty", he is blaming them.  When you blame the family, you are implicitly saying it is their "fault", to use your word.  Own it, brother.  (and apologize)

I'm confused why you push back on something I never said.  I can't apologize for something I didn't do.  I'll leave it at that.

 

Mr. LaVern G. Carpenter

Proverbs 3:1-12

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, it is precisely your notion that the victims and family ought to be blamed if they do not report that I am contesting.  If we are held accountable for what we know, we ought to be able to point to a lot of teaching about the importance of reporting, how it's better to air the dirty laundry, and the like.

However, reality is that we see just the opposite.  Cover things up, minimize the offense, treat people harshly if they don't do what we think is right, etc..   If people learn from what we (our institutions) teach them, what we see is exactly what we'd expect.  Worth noting as well is that when I put provisions into a church child safety manual to deal with these tendencies, one deacon's revision eliminated them.  Don't think for a minute that they don't exist in your church or institutions you care about.  These things need to be confronted.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

As for me, when a church covers up a crime like abuse, its candlestick is null and void. You can stay at one when the pastor asks you to cover it up, I'm gone, brother.

 

Bert Perry's picture

....but let's have some compassion for those who cannot easily leave their churches, schools, and the like, especially in light of the outsized authority that many church leaders pretend and preach.  It's also worth noting that there are times when it is better to stay and fight, because there are some misguided church leaders (other leaders) who can be brought to repentance by a well-made argument.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

M. Osborne's picture

Many of the stories like this date back to when I was child, or before I was child, so I have no first-hand adult understanding of how people thought about issues back then.

But with everything I'm reading, you'd almost think that decades ago, people thought differently about this kind of incident than they do nowadays. And you'd almost think that our bringing our 2019 understanding to the coulda-shoulda-woulda of decades ago is anachronistic.

As a father I find it inconceivable that any church ties would be strong enough for me not to report such a crime against my family, let alone to purchase a shotgun and handle it myself. While there may have been and still be "outsized authority" working against reporting, I'm wondering if back then, there wasn't sufficient reckoning about the gravity of the crime, which also mitigated the urgency to report.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Bert Perry's picture

M. Osborne, yes, things were even worse when I was a kid--my neighbors reported their sons were molested around 1980 and the police didn't do anything, but please, please, please don't assume that people are getting the message.  Despite clear evidence of completely mishandling multiple sexual assault accusations as recently as 2015, Paige Patterson still has a host of defenders.  When the Houston Chronicle did their series on wrongdoing in SBC/IBC circles, they found a lot of things a lot more recent than "decades ago", including cases where people who had done hard time for sex crimes returned to the pulpit like Darrell Gilyard--a protege of Paige Patterson, by the way.

In the same way, a recent Minneapolis Star-Tribune report on the subject found a lot of recent cases where police did not as much as interview the accuser or the accused (when the accused's name was known).  About 80% of cases did not get even basic due diligence, let alone special effort.

Close to home for me, I've been writing a children's safety manual for my church, and I made it a point to specifically proscribe the behaviors that get organizations in trouble while defining what the problem was.  Guess what?  When I got the first revision back from a deacon, all that had been taken out with the assumption that people would just "know" what the problem was, and know what to do with it.  Worse yet, a provision was added which would allow the pastor to break the law by not reporting if he thought wise. (which could get him put in jail for failure to report, of course)

Sorry, but reality here is that far too many, including far too many on deacon boards and in pulpits, have not gotten the message.  I might also add that the very fact that many people say "it was decades ago" or "our emphasis here is anachronistic" is itself a sign that we haven't gotten the message, and that we're not taking the risk seriously.   It is, after all, to claim--wrongly as I've demonstrated above--"we've got this thing under control". 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

But with everything I'm reading, you'd almost think that decades ago, people thought differently about this kind of incident than they do nowadays. And you'd almost think that our bringing our 2019 understanding to the coulda-shoulda-woulda of decades ago is anachronistic.

Oh, this is very much a real thing. I know of a situation where marital rape was excused on the grounds of "they just have a different understanding", as though rape was somehow OK.

I have an extremely difficult time buying the 'anachronistic' excuse though.  At some point, rape and molestation are clearly wrong and should be known as wrong without needing to have the enlightened sensibilities and intelligence of the 21st century.  The OT makes it very clear that non-consensual sex is a crime against both God and survivor (Deut. 22:25-29 and other places).

I'm wondering if back then, there wasn't sufficient reckoning about the gravity of the crime, which also mitigated the urgency to report.

You'd probably be horrified at how common this is and how often pastors/deacons/elders will just assume that the rape or molestation is consensual or was even desired.  In one case I know, multiple instances were written off as the woman being hysterical or not understanding what was going on or was wanted.  "Buyer's Remorse" is a common but perverse defense.  

It's a very, very, very common response for some reason and I will never understand why.

As an aside, Slate ran a very good review of the book as well; I'm noting this to nudge the thread back on topic.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

As a father I find it inconceivable that any church ties would be strong enough for me not to report such a crime against my family, let alone to purchase a shotgun and handle it myself.

Two thoughts - 

1.  You're a man.  Most men will believe you because of your gender and perceived authority within your church.  We can ignore that fact or we can acknowledge it, but it remains regardless.

2.  Imagine, for a few seconds, what it would be like if your church and all the relationships there suddenly vanished.  You have no place to worship, no friends to support you, nothing.  What would that do to you?  Now what would you do if everyone in your church suddenly turned on you and you were perceived as one who "troubles Israel".  How do you think that would affect you or your relationship with God?

My point is that many have no idea how profoundly damaging this is because we haven't gone through it ourselves, which is the value of Rachael's book.  Of course it's easy to say that we'd do the right thing; but you don't know how you would respond until you've actually been there. I would imagine that these situations are a lot harder when you aren't tied up in a skein of personal relationships on top of the mental anguish/trauma received as a result.  "Save me, O God" is great biblical preaching but takes on additional potency when you're being rejected or ignored or silenced by people that should be helping you get justice for being victimized.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

M. Osborne's picture

Yep, I agree, it is sufficiently clear in Scripture for all generations that this crime is an outrage against God and the survivor. And because it is sufficiently clear, no one involved in Rachel's case can be strictly excused, whether it be her family or the church. To me the sufficiency of Scripture outweighs "outsized authority" and social pressures.

The cultural buzz today makes it hard not to hear that this crime is an outrage, and yes, Bert, apparently the message is still not getting through. But generations ago, they don't seem to have had that cultural buzz. And from everything I hear, they seem to have had a cultural miopia as to the long-term damage that this kind of crime coul effect.

So my original comment was actually one of sympathy to Rachel's family. Strictly speaking, her family's failure to report would seem to be inexcusable. And I have a hard time imagining social pressures alone outweighing the decision to report. But it becomes a little more imaginable when I subtract all the more recent public discussion about how damaging such a crime is.

 

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

M. Osborne's picture

Jay wrote:

As a father I find it inconceivable that any church ties would be strong enough for me not to report such a crime against my family, let alone to purchase a shotgun and handle it myself.

My point is that many have no idea how profoundly damaging this is because we haven't gone through it ourselves, which is the value of Rachael's book.  

Right. And back then, they didn't have such info, either. Which is why I'm trying to understand and extend sympathy.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Jay's picture

That's a great point. Part of the difficulty in dealing with these issues is sorting out the people who are serious, who see it as a problem, and who want to effect change or do better from people who don't want to the bothered, believe this is all a bunch of hooey, or who side with their friends and acquaintances "because they'd never hurt a fly".

Thanks for sharing that.  I wasn't quite sure where you were coming from.

Here's an excerpt from the Slate article I linked to earlier, which had a good explanation of the kind of hurdles that one must overcome to be believed:

When she was 12, she told her mother what happened, and learned that her parents’ protectiveness had gotten them hounded out of the church, accused of paranoia, slander, and improper reliance on secular expertise. The episode taught her a lesson that she carried with her when Nassar abused her: “If you can’t prove it, don’t speak up. Because it will cost you everything.”

At every turn in her account, Denhollander emphasizes the hurdles she faced in getting people to believe her and to advocate for her, and the costs of reporting. She told a gymnastics coach, who encouraged her to keep quiet. She told her mother, but they couldn’t figure out how to get law enforcement or media outlets to take her one story seriously. By the time she came forward 16 years later—the Indianapolis Star’s reporting on USA Gymnastics convinced her that victims were finally being believed—pursuing justice had become difficult in other ways: She had moved to a different state, and she was a mother of three with a husband in graduate school...

...But Denhollander never portrays herself as a lone figure with special powers. She praises the prosecutors, investigators, and journalists who helped bring Nassar’s crimes to light, and the family support and education that made her the kind of person with the capital to risk going public. And she emphasizes her own enormous privilege as a way of making clear that not every victim can afford to take the risks she did.

She views Nassar with special contempt, but also reserves blame for the institutions and individuals that protected him. This is not a book about bad guys and good guys. It is a book about systems—and Denhollander has bigger systems in her sights than Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, although her advocacy has fundamentally changed both. She doesn’t use words like patriarchy or misogyny. Instead, she simply depicts them in action: teenage boys ranking girls’ bodies, a peer in her teen Bible study group pretending to grope her breast (no one cared), inescapable “locker room talk.” As an adult, she comes to see that when women with histories of abuse raise alarms, they’re viewed as “projecting” instead of being respected as experts. Church leaders called her “divisive” for publicly airing concerns about sexual abuse. And she describes how Christian teachers pressured her to forgive Nassar prematurely and even be thankful for his crimes against her.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

It seems some are missing the idea that there is shared blame. People who do not report are to blame. Period. That someone else told them not to doesn't absolve them of blame. It adds a blameworthy party. When you are a part of mob violence, "They told me to" is not a legal defense. Nor is it a moral defense. Do right, no matter what.

Yes, power structures are real and difficult to overcome. Many have pointed that out even in this very issue in current times. Dare to suggest that an accused is not guilty simply because a charge is made and request that judgment be withheld until evidence is gathered, examined, and a trial takes place and see the powerful words that marginalize and accuse come out. Face the accusations of not "believing the victim." It's enough to scare a weak person into silence even though they know the truth about process and justice. 

We should mourn the sin and the crimes involved and grieve for victims. We should seek justice. Actual justice, not mob justice. We should recognize the spheres of church and civil government and endeavor that both carry our their God-ordained duties. We should recognize that there shared blame and shared guilt (liability for punishment).

Mark_Smith's picture

M. Osborne wrote:

Right. And back then, they didn't have such info, either. Which is why I'm trying to understand and extend sympathy.

 

Sympathy? Oh yes, I have full sympathy. Abuse is such a terrible thing. My problem is the special case of a person like Denhollander. Her family doesn't  report, and then she writes a book years later where she casts blame on the church without (apparently) mentioning the blame of her parents., all in an attempt to create a narrative where she is the expert on abuse. Caveat- I have not read her book, nor will I. I am simply going by the reviews I have read that describe what she wrote. If she mentions that her parents are also to blame for not reporting the crime, that is different.

Bert Perry's picture

People are starting to understand that reporting often ends up being quite the blanket party for the accuser and her (his) family; good.  Now couple that with the fact that, due to the police not taking cases seriously and other factors, only about 2% of sexual assault accusations end with jail time for the perpetrator.  Minnesota is better at about 5%, but even here, a Star-Tribune survey found only 20% of accusations got even a good basic investigation.  

So again, what we have here is a person subjected to serious trauma, often resulting in lifelong mental illness, being told that her options are to (a) suffer in silence or (b) suffer even more due to the misguided "counsel" she receives from her most cherish institutions while knowing that the chances her rapist will do hard time are remote.

And then in the remote likelihood the case goes to trial, they have the privilege of sharing the intimate details of their worst sexual experience to the entire courtroom (and anyone who wants to get the court reporter's notes) while a defense attorney casts aspersions on their character, motives, and the like.  

If you want to cast blame on victims/survivors for not signing on to repeated blanket parties with little hope of punishment for the perp, be my guest, but don't be surprised when their response is "not exactly positive."

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, Mrs. Denhollander is an attorney who from her youth has been involved in the legislative process, and when she reported her abuse by Larry Nassar to both authorities and the Indianapolis Star, she put on a clinic for "this is how to make an accusation stick".  You see, she had her testimony, the testimony of family and friends, her medical records, copies of presentations Nassar had made to the MSU school of osteopathy, copies of medical papers about how the procedure Nassar was pretending to do is supposed to be done, and more.  She knew that abusers tend to have multiple victims as well, so it was important for her to go to the press so victims out there would know they weren't alone--this is a critical factor in getting people to report.  She also was in consistent contact with the investigators to make sure they were getting key things done.

In other words, she was modeling the kind of behavior you and I ought to have if someone should come up to us and mention they'd been abused.  She's also encouraged and counseled a fair number of fellow survivors to help them come to terms with what they'd endured, and she continues work to try and improve laws regarding sexual assault, especially in the area of lengthening statutes of limitations.

Yes, Mark, she's an expert, and responding rationally to the signals she was receiving does not change that fact.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

This is my last post on this topic. I never said she was not an expert. I said she was writing to make a narrative as an expert. You are so focused on gottchas all the time... annoying.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Not sure what a blanket party is, but we know why people don't report. You have told us many times even though we already knew. That doesn't change the fact that they don't report, and when you don't report, you can't then claim no one did anything. You are to blame, to one degree or another, for failing to report. Because you didn't do anything, nothing else could be done. So if people don't report, there is no one to blame but themselves. That would be hard to hear from someone in a difficult situation, and it may be that others should have reported. And it is not always the right time to say that, but we must face reality, mustn't we? For all the talk of holding people accountable, let's hold people accountable.

 

M. Osborne's picture

For current and future victims: reporting may or may not get you justice; but consider that it can help prevent the abuser from getting away with it again, and again. Come forward now, for their sake if not for your own. And don't wait until your abuser is nominated for a high court position, because by then you'll have an entire political party predisposed against you.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Mark_Smith's picture

M. Osborne wrote:

For current and future victims: reporting may or may not get you justice; but consider that it can help prevent the abuser from getting away with it again, and again. Come forward now, for their sake if not for your own. And don't wait until your abuser is nominated for a high court position, because by then you'll have an entire political party predisposed against you.

Seriously... Ford has no corroboration at all. The newest NYT story has none either. 'Nuff said. I just could not let that pass.

M. Osborne's picture

For the record...I don't find Ford's accusations credible on many levels. That being said, can you imagine a worse time to seek justice for a 30-year-old crime? People may be predisposed to think it's a political hit job. Further, if Ford's allegations were found to be not-credible because they were in fact not-credible, think of the damage she's done for future people who would report.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Bert Perry's picture

Larry wrote:

Not sure what a blanket party is, but we know why people don't report. You have told us many times even though we already knew. That doesn't change the fact that they don't report, and when you don't report, you can't then claim no one did anything. You are to blame, to one degree or another, for failing to report. Because you didn't do anything, nothing else could be done. So if people don't report, there is no one to blame but themselves. That would be hard to hear from someone in a difficult situation, and it may be that others should have reported. And it is not always the right time to say that, but we must face reality, mustn't we? For all the talk of holding people accountable, let's hold people accountable.

 

Blanket party; throw a blanket over the victim's head so he can't see and a group of people beat the snot out of him.

Regarding you understand; no, you don't.  Not in the least.  I can see this because you are still telling victims that they need to sign on for another round of abuse with minimal chance of getting justice.  You don't understand at all.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Regarding you understand; no, you don't.  Not in the least.  I can see this because you are still telling victims that they need to sign on for another round of abuse with minimal chance of getting justice.  You don't understand at all.

So you are saying they should not report because most crimes don't get adequately investigated? 

Bert Perry's picture

Larry wrote:

Regarding you understand; no, you don't.  Not in the least.  I can see this because you are still telling victims that they need to sign on for another round of abuse with minimal chance of getting justice.  You don't understand at all.

So you are saying they should not report because most crimes don't get adequately investigated? 

Is that your insistence that they have "guilt" for not reporting more or less assumes that for them to have fellowship with you, they need to expose themselves to more assaults with little chance of getting justice.  That's repulsive.  What's next, require they bang their heads against a wall until they get a concussion?  That is, really, analagous to the harm that is being done.  I'm 100% fine with someone saying "you know, if you want justice here, you are going to need to step forward--and I'll go with you if you like."  That is, however, starkly different from saying that they are "guilty" by not coming forward.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

M. Osborne wrote:

 

Right. And back then, they didn't have such info, either. Which is why I'm trying to understand and extend sympathy.

 

 

 

Sympathy? Oh yes, I have full sympathy. Abuse is such a terrible thing. My problem is the special case of a person like Denhollander. Her family doesn't  report, and then she writes a book years later where she casts blame on the church without (apparently) mentioning the blame of her parents., all in an attempt to create a narrative where she is the expert on abuse. Caveat- I have not read her book, nor will I. I am simply going by the reviews I have read that describe what she wrote. If she mentions that her parents are also to blame for not reporting the crime, that is different.

I've highlighted the statement you've made; if someone is attempting to create a narrative, that implies that the narrative created is not true.  Don't try to weasel out of it by saying you didn't say so in as many words, because you clearly implied it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Is that your insistence that they have "guilt" for not reporting more or less assumes that for them to have fellowship with you, they need to expose themselves to more assaults with little chance of getting justice.

Have fellowship with me? I never mentioned fellowship with me. That could not be more irrelevant. That's a rather strange attempt on your part at ... well, at something ... I have no idea what.

My point was simple and, I think, really clear: If you don't report, you are guilty of not reporting. You can't blame someone else for that. You are the one who didn't report. So what are they guilty of? They are guilty of not reporting. It's fine, if that's what they choose to do. Aside from mandatory reporters, everyone gets to make that choice. But if you want to report and you don't report, you are guilty of not reporting. 

What part of that is confusing to you? Or what part do you disagree with?

On the flip side, your repeated comment along the lines of "exposing themselves with little chance of getting justice" or "banging their heads against a wall until they get a concussion" seems to imply you think they shouldn't report because no one will do anything. Is that your position?

Kevin Miller's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

 I'm 100% fine with someone saying "you know, if you want justice here, you are going to need to step forward--and I'll go with you if you like."  That is, however, starkly different from saying that they are "guilty" by not coming forward.  

Is it really "starkly different"? You said you are fine with saying "if you want justice, you are going to need to step forward." What happens if they don't step forward? According to what you are fine with saying, you are telling them they won't have justice if they don't step forward. That puts a certain level of responsibility on them to step forward if they want justice, doesn't it? If, for whatever reason, they decide not to come forward, wouldn't they be their decision to ignore that small level of responsibility that would needed to happen for justice to take place?

Mark_Smith's picture

Oh mighty great one... I repent of you reading into something I said the way you interpreted it, Amen.

 

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Oh mighty great one... I repent of you reading into something I said the way you interpreted it, Amen.

 

Yeah, keep trying to weasel out of it, Mark.  The only real defense you have is that you, with an earned doctorate, do not have adequate command of the English language to know what is meant by "trying to create a narrative."  Good luck with that. Reality is that one tries to create something that does not already exist, which is why I called you on it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Bert Perry wrote:

 

 I'm 100% fine with someone saying "you know, if you want justice here, you are going to need to step forward--and I'll go with you if you like."  That is, however, starkly different from saying that they are "guilty" by not coming forward.  

 

Is it really "starkly different"? You said you are fine with saying "if you want justice, you are going to need to step forward." What happens if they don't step forward? According to what you are fine with saying, you are telling them they won't have justice if they don't step forward. That puts a certain level of responsibility on them to step forward if they want justice, doesn't it? If, for whatever reason, they decide not to come forward, wouldn't they be their decision to ignore that small level of responsibility that would needed to happen for justice to take place?

 

Absolutely, it's a huge difference.  Guilt and blame have an implication of sin.  I emphatically endorse the notion "if you want justice, this is a risk you're going to need to take", and I emphatically reject the notion that one is sinning by not exposing themselves to more sins against themselves.  The very idea that we would even talk about blame and guilt in such a situation shows that we simply do not understand the needs of victims.  They didn't ask to be in that position.

And that's why accusing victims of having guilt or blame is indeed a breach of fellowship.  Sin separates.  Didn't we used to know that as fundamentalists?  So if we are indeed accusing victims of having guilt because they didn't choose to run the gauntlet, we are simultaneously saying that fellowship is impaired as long as the person doesn't repent of that.   And yes, statistically speaking, that gauntlet includes not only harsh treatment by social networks and defense attorneys, but also the very strong (98% or more) likelihood that the perpetrator will not be punished in a meaningful way.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Kevin Miller's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

Is it really "starkly different"? You said you are fine with saying "if you want justice, you are going to need to step forward." What happens if they don't step forward? According to what you are fine with saying, you are telling them they won't have justice if they don't step forward. That puts a certain level of responsibility on them to step forward if they want justice, doesn't it? If, for whatever reason, they decide not to come forward, wouldn't they be their decision to ignore that small level of responsibility that would needed to happen for justice to take place?

 

Absolutely, it's a huge difference.  Guilt and blame have an implication of sin.  I emphatically endorse the notion "if you want justice, this is a risk you're going to need to take", and I emphatically reject the notion that one is sinning by not exposing themselves to more sins against themselves.  The very idea that we would even talk about blame and guilt in such a situation shows that we simply do not understand the needs of victims.  They didn't ask to be in that position.

I thought this might simply be a semantic situation. Guilt and blame refer to sin? They certainly can, in certain situations, but you seem to think they refer to sin in all situations. Not every failure to make a responsible decision is a sin.

Sometimes the failure can be an honest mistake. One of my first jobs as a teen was as a landscaper. On one job, I was sent out to fertilize a lawn. I hadn't understood that the wheels of the fertilizer spreader had to overlap and the lawn ended up with dark green stripes. I was guilty of operating the spreader wrongly and I was person to blame, but I hadn't sinned.

Sometimes the failure is because of reasons like fear. This is often why reporting doesn't take place. It's an understandable reason, but the failure still happens, and justice becomes more difficult to obtain because of that failure. I would never say, however, that the failure is a sin. The guilt and blame in that case is not guilt and blame because of sinning, It is guilt and blame simply for a totally understandable failure that doesn't involve any sinning on the part of the victim..

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