Opinion: Hope for healing not just limited to victims

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Taylor Walding

Variety Editor

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about finding healing through faith from sexual assault. The specific events I addressed were one thing, but what the reader may not have realized is that these incidents of misogyny are not uncommon or isolated situations.

While 1 in 3 women face physical sexual assault in their lifetime, the statistic for sexual harassment is much higher. According to a recent survey by a nonprofit called Stop Street Harassment, 81 percent of women have faced sexual harassment.

Now, I can’t attest to the standard by which the surveyors defined sexual harassment, but let me be clear that I am not defining sexual harassment as merely being asked on a date or winked at. I can’t count the amount of times I have had vulgarities yelled at me from the window of a passing truck or car, something I genuinely thought wasn’t unusual until I casually mentioned a recent example to my colleagues, and they all looked at me with shocked faces.

When I was 14 years old, a 24-year-old man invited me to spend the night with him in his hotel room with a bottle of wine. This invitation was given within earshot of at least two other adults who were aware of our ages. No one said a word, including myself. I simply turned on my heel and walked away.

Looking back, I think that was the best thing I could do in the situation. Rest assured, if I were to overhear another young woman being spoken to in that way today, I absolutely would not keep my mouth shut. I would probably chew him out, and then call the police.

It is not out of nowhere that people are sexually assaulted. Before the physical incident, there is first a wicked heart full of disrespect and disregard for fellow humans who places selfish desires over the other person.

The reality is we live in a broken world where sexual assault and harassment take place far more often than we prefer. In the biblical text of 2 Samuel:11-12, the story of David and Bathsheba is told. David, Israel’s king, raped Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and had her husband killed to cover it up when she conceived a child.

David faced real, tangible consequences for his sin. By the grace of God, he was forgiven, and in his repentance, wrote one of the most moving, heart-wrenching psalms – Psalm 51 which has been a prayer of repentance prayed by Christians for centuries.

Bathsheba faced real, tangible sorrow. She was sinned against greatly. By the grace of God, she was not forgotten. God remembered her, and her name was recorded in the lineage of Jesus Christ, an honor given to a handful of broken, beloved women.

Jesus Christ is our ultimate Redeemer. He redeems even the most broken people, with the worst pasts, and the most pain. 

Last week, I shared my story of healing, restoration and peace. Today, I tell you the other side of the redemption story. One that the #MeToo movement failed to address – there is hope for the perpetrator as well as the victim. I believe those guilty of sexual assault ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, in Christ, there is forgiveness for even the most grievous of sins.

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