A new year rapidly approaches. It is a natural time to tie up loose ends, create closure and to resolve to be a better, more whole person. For me, this resolution impelled me to write to you tonight.
However, perhaps you don’t remember me. Perhaps you don’t remember one of our last conversations. Perhaps you don’t realize the damage you caused me by what you said. Let me refresh your memory:
I had been assaulted in a sexual manner by an employee at the Brethren Service Center. I approached you as my boss, and as someone I thought would be reasonable, fair and protective of women. You listened to my story. I wrote out a painful, detailed description of the events. You and The Center’s Director gave me reassurances that things would be “taken care of” while I was gone on the annual BVS retreat. And, I believed you.
Instead, I came back from the retreat to the employee still living in the apartment directly above mine, and still employed by the Center with full key access to my apartment. That was scary enough.
However, even more scary was what you told me: You said that you talked to my “friends” and they told you I was not to be believed.
At the time, I was shocked and devastated. I shut down. And, I believed you.
I lost my confidence in anyone and everyone, just when I needed to be able to have a support system the most. Instead of being able to turn to the rape support group I had been regularly attending, or talking to my long distance friends, or asking for help, I felt I had nowhere to go.
Through the Church of the Brethren and Brethren Volunteer Service, I finally felt I had found a place that God and religion made sense. However, I was accused of making up lies, I lost faith in God and Humanity for many years.
I’ve tried to find reasons for your choice: Yes, I engaged in physical contact at the retreat. However, being physical or sexual after an assault is not unexpected, unusual or a sign that an attack did not happen. Or, perhaps you said what you did because it was the middle of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas debacle, and you were protecting the Center in the best way you knew how. Or, maybe you did talk to “someone” and they gave you the impression I wasn’t believable. However, no one I considered a friend ever received a contact from anyone at the Center, and I did not think of anyone there as a friend to me.
So, I have no other choice than to believe you lied to me. That lie haunted me for too long. But not anymore.
And, actually and thankfully, your lie hasn’t haunted in a long while. But, as the end of the world (hope not!) and the new year approach, I am emboldened to let you know what damage you caused. I urge you to never shatter someone’s spirit again so lightly and to be mindful of the impact of your words. Now that you are on my Alma Mater’s campus, I fear for those that might turn to you. I hope and pray your choices will be wiser, your words and actions less damaging.
The woman I am – on behalf of the girl I was
TL;DR: I never lied. It happened – I was assaulted. I lived in fear. The results of your lie did more psychic and emotional damage than the actual attack.