Trigger Warning: this article describes sexual assault and may be triggering to survivors.
The story about the accusations against Roy Moore that he sexually assaulted a young teenage girl has really hit me. I’ve been melancholy, nauseated, stressed, unable to sleep. I even bought a pack of cigarettes after having kicked the habit long ago. Even with all the high profile sexual assault stories in the news, this one really pushed my buttons. Now, her story is the first thing I think about every morning, and the last thing I think about at night. Her story is always in the back of my mind. Tears flow and I have no control over when or where, because I am so grieved for her. It’s not her story, but the response to her story that compels me to speak out.
In my life, I’ve listened to dozens of stories of sexual abuse and assault from women (and men) from all walks of life; no one is immune. I’ve gotten pretty good at seeing the truth of a story and filtering out falsehoods and exaggerations. Leigh Corfman’s story rings true. I believe her.
“Why did she wait forty years to say something? Why is she telling this now?” Many women confide in no one until they are much older. Other than one friend and my therapist, I’ve never named my abuser either. But people knew. I tried to tell, but I was shamed and shunned. I don’t know where he is, or even if he’s alive or dead, but you can be sure of one thing: if that man ever decided to run for US Senate, yes, you bet your sweet bippy I would talk. Even after forty years.
The Washington Post wouldn’t have even known about Ms. Corfman if rumors hadn’t already existed for years. People knew. People knew the gossip. They heard the rumors. They passed on the scandalous details, but no one confronted him. No one spoke out.
And then this. “14-year-olds don’t make good decisions” This. This man blaming a child for the illegal acts of another man. Never mind that it was a grown-ass thirty-two year old MAN who pursued a fourteen year old CHILD. Never mind that he was an assistant District Attorney, thoroughly familiar with the laws he was breaking. He made the decision to take her to a secluded place. He made the decision to strip down to his tighty whities. He made the decision to fondle her. She made the decision to go home. She made the decision to not see him again. Her fate could have been much worse. Seems to me she made better decisions that he did.
How long will women stand by and allow this to go on? Listen to the story of another young girl:
The little girl was on her knees in front of the toilet, tears streaming down her face. She repeatedly dunked her soiled panties into the water to remove the feces, desperately trying to wash out the stains. Her mind was trying to make sense of what happened. She didn’t understand. She hadn’t soiled her panties in years, and certainly not in her sleep. She wasn’t a baby. She was seven. The little girl was punished. She was yelled at and humiliated, by the woman. She was forced to hand wash her panties in the toilet, by the woman. Her hair was cut off, by the woman. But nothing happened to the man who anally assaulted her the night before.
When that little girl was fourteen, she was grabbed from behind and her breasts were groped. She jerked around and looked her assailant in the eye, and she ran into her house as he called after her, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” From that point forward, whenever he was around she went indoors. She was embarrassed, offended, and confused. She had seen remorse in his eyes, and something else. Fear. So, she said nothing. She watched and listened and she never told because she believed that his remorse was genuine, and that his fear would keep him from doing it again. His countenance slumped with sadness for the rest of his life.
When she was seventeen, that’s when the worst of it happened. She was in a situation where she could not avoid a certain man. As this man’s behavior towards her became more and more aggressive, she tried to tell her mother what was happening, but her mother refused to listen, and the girl felt ashamed. She turned to an older woman in her church, who essentially dismissed it as something that all women must suffer, because men were just that way. The girl was forced to remain in that situation and suffer repeated abuses for several more weeks before she was able to find a way out.
It was the women in the community, the women in the church, who strengthened the defensive front line and protected the reputation of the prominent man, the community leader. It was the women who covered up his wickedness and cast the blame, the guilt, and the shame for his offenses onto his victims. They knew she wasn’t the first. They knew she wouldn’t be the last.
It’s time for the women to stop protecting these men. Leigh Corfman’s story rings true for me. If it rings true for you too, acknowledge it with your vote. If you can’t speak any other way, you can do that.
Photo by Dan Wilkinson.
About Geneva Gurrusquieta
Geneva Gurrusquieta, Listener, Thinker, Doer, Writer, Finder, Helper
Providing location independent freelance business services, including Excel whispering and cat herding. Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geneva-gurrus.