Rape Culture + Purity Culture = Church Hurt
Let me start by saying. I love God. He’s so good. He’s never failed me. But some of his people have. That’s expected, but I want to explain why this is dangerous.
TW: This involved rape, but no details about my actual assault. Just how church culture and rape culture clash in a very dangerous way.
The first person I was able to disclose to was an usher at a Christian concert. What prompted it was seeing a depiction of Jesus Christ on the cross and I could not worship. If you know me, you know I love a good worship experience. Corporate worship is my jam.
This particular night- NOTHING.
I was sad. I was angry. I then realized that the PK (preacher’s kid) who assaulted me scarred me in the worst way. He hurt me in the worst way so when I found the words to tell the usher, Nancy, she immediately prayed. It felt good. It felt like okay she was standing in the gap for me while I don’t have words.
But then it took a dangerous turn.
She brought me a book the next day — Battlefield of the Mind. She wrote a note inside. I still have the book — 9 years later. But what I wished she’d done- was call the police as a mandated reporter should. She could have asked me what I needed and gently suggested I have a record of what happened while it was fresh. Even without DNA, there are things that needed to be recorded. Like her being an outcry witness.
I can’t fault Nancy completely. The church doesn’t preach about trauma. The church inflicts a bit of trauma though. I thought that this sin should have been immediately forgiven and that vengeance was God’s. Vengeance should have been God’s and the police departments though. He walked away from the assault as if nothing happened. I did too. I showered, went to sleep, and fake smiled for a very long time. I avoided him like the plague and never went back to that class again…. but I didn’t report it until years later.
It was evident when I came back to a church environment full of “Fake daps and fake hug music” — (1KPhew), that I was forever changed by the purity culture that never addressed how this was not okay.
The shame I felt in church for even looking at a boy bled over to when I looked this evil man in the face for 10 minutes too long.
I felt naive because I believed that he was raised by the same kind of pastor I had. My mom is an angel on earth so I assumed all PKs were as kind as I was.
There were no signs that he was a predator until he trapped me in the room.
To not go into too many details, it was clear he didn’t care what God thought about his actions that day.
But the HOPE that I found to get me to today, was that I am okay. I ran out of that room and I’ve been running every since from the fact that I was hurt in a way that should have never happened. But it did. I survived the worst day of my life so I will survive and thrive through whatever is next.
Church has never been the same, but I am optimistic that one day, it will return to the feelings I had all my life on those uncomfortable red pews for hours on end.