From Cowardice to Courage: A story of a rumor

This is a story of a rumor hopefully made right.

A few years ago a leader at my church told me that someone I knew had been sexually assaulted as a teenager.

I asked her about it and she brushed it off, saying it was nothing.  Since this person has a habit of downplaying anything to do with herself, this did not reassure me but in fact alarmed me.  I was worried that this lovely woman had been hurt and never healed.

Bit by bit, I put more information together.  It appears that other people knew things and wouldn’t talk about it directly but now that I had some knowledge, I could see what they were speaking about.

I learned that this woman’s father had known about the assault and not only chosen to do nothing but counselled his daughter to say nothing about it.

Understandably, I was angry at this.  I felt that the father had betrayed his daughter and perhaps other family members whom I knew had also come into contact with the perpetrator.  The father is also a leader in our church.  It has affected my relationship with him due not only to a loss of respect but a feeling of loss of safety for me and my two girls.

I know that I ranted about this online somewhere.  I don’t remember if it was on this blog, or in a comment on someone else’s blog. While the information was partially correct, I had the wrong impression of the character of the father and was passing that along.  For that I apologize.

I wasn’t misinformed, but I was under-informed.  That was enough however to malign someone’s character.

The father did indeed know about the assault and counsel his daughter not to mention it to certain family members.  However, he did not find out until she was in her 30s, two decades after the incident.   She had handled the situation quite well as a teenager and was no longer bothered by the incident.   The perpetrator was no longer in a position to hurt people so easily.  The silence requested was to protect other family members from feeling unnecessary pain.

The father would have done something if he had known.  I was unaware that this quiet man had spoken up several times on behalf of others at personal cost.  In one of those incidents, a neighbour was sexually abusing his mentally challenged hired help.  The father in fact confronted the abuser.

Please let me put that rumor  of the apathetic father to rest and resurrect his true character which does include both courage and compassion.  If this has affected your perceptions of anyone, I apologize.  If you think you know who I am talking about, ask me to email you in the comments section and I will answer your questions in private.

There is still one thing that bothers me.  The daughter had told two church leaders about the assault in confidence.   The man who informed me about it was not one that she told.  I wonder how many confessions I have made in confidence are also being passed around.  For my own good, I suppose :p

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