Minimizers

There is a story I have been recently reading in the news that is breaking my heart. A young woman accompanied her sister to a party. I believe she was reluctant to go, but she was protective of her younger sister so she went along. The next thing she knew, she was waking up in the hospital where she was told that she had been brutally raped behind a dumpster while she was unconscious. (Although it was not stated, I wonder if she had been given a date rape drug.)  Two Stanford University graduate students biking across campus spotted and apprehended a 20-year-old freshman “thrusting his body on top of her unconscious body.” The sight was so brutal that the rescuers cried. In March, a California jury found the 20-year-old rapist, Brock Turner, guilty of three counts of sexual assault. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but he was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation. The judge said he feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, a champion swimmer who once aspired to compete in the Olympics — a point repeatedly brought up during the trial.

Many people have been outraged by the light sentence the judge gave for such a brutal rape. And they should be. When a judge gives more mercy and compassion to the unrepentant criminal than to the innocent victim, it is not a beautiful act of grace but rather a perversion and miscarriage of justice. All it teaches the unrepentant wicked is that they got away with their crime. In fact, the wicked often see unconditional love and forgiveness as a weakness that they can exploit. Isaiah 26:10 says:

But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the LORD.

God is a merciful, gracious, and just God. Many see justice and mercy as opposites of each other, and they think God is cruel to judge the wicked. However, actually true justice is very merciful…to the innocent, to the oppressed, to the afflicted, to the vulnerable.  God cares deeply for the needy and oppressed and He promises that He will deliver them. God gives grace and mercy to the repentant as well but the Bible says that He is angry with the (unrepentant) wicked every day. There is a difference between the unrepentant wicked and the repentant sinner who acknowledges his wrongdoing. Proverbs 17:15 says::

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous —
    both alike are an abomination to Adonai. (Prov. 17:15)

People are also outraged by a letter that the rapist’s father read at the sentencing defending his son. While it is understandable that the father loves his son, he excused and minimized his son’s actions in the letter, even describing the rape as a mere “20 minutes of action.” In fact, he doesn’t mention the word “rape” at all even though his son was caught in the act. He speaks of the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity–but not everyone who drinks chooses to rape and promiscuity is not rape. Promiscuity is consensual; rape is not. He speaks of breaking the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results without stating that the “unfortunate results” was his son’s decision to rape an innocent woman. He speaks of how this has affected his son, but not about how his son’s raping the woman affected her life. Here is a portion of the letter. You can read the full letter HERE.

I am writing this letter to tell you about my son Brock and the person that I know he is. First of all, let me say that Brock is absolutely devastated by the events of January 17th and 18th 2015. He would do anything to turn back the hands of time and have that night to do over again. In many one-on-one conversations with Brock since that day, I can tell you that he is truly sorry for what occurred that night and for all the pain and suffering that it has caused for all of those involved and impacted by that night. He has expressed true remorse for his actions on that night. Living under that same roof with Brock since this incident, I can tell you firsthand the devastating impact that it has had on my son. Before I elaborate more, I would like to share some memories of my son that demonstrate the quality of his character….

As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big rib eye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.

These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of Jan 17th 2015. Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.

Very Respectfully,
Dan A. Turner

Alexandra Ozeri, one person who was angered by the Dad’s minimizing letter, “fixed” the letter by adding her comments to the minimizing statements so that they acknowledged accountability for the wrong done to the victim. Her additions are in blue. Here it is:

As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events (raping an unconscious woman) of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile that was there the whole time he was raping a young woman thinking he wouldn’t get caught.

His every waking minute is consumed with not taking responsibility for the rape he committed. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, the fact that he took the girl he raped to trial and blamed it on her, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite.

Brock always enjoyed certain types of food before he raped someone and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big rib eye steak to grill, but it just wasn’t the same after he raped an innocent young woman. I had to make sure to hide some of my favourite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from swim practice, but these cute details don’t have anything to do with the rape he committed. Now he barely consumes any foods and eats only to exist because he screwed his own life and many other lives up by raping someone.

The verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways, because our son is now a rapist. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve, the one where he gets to rape a beautiful strong human being and then go back to his swim meet.

This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action i.e. raping someone out of his 20 plus years of life. This isn’t like the three second rule for food, rape still counts no matter how many seconds it lasts. This is rape.

The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, rape, and how he will be able to interact with people who don’t want to be raped and organisations who don’t want their employees to be raped.

What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the punishment for Brock, but a longer punishment meant for a rapist. He has no prior criminal history (aside from this rape) and has never been violent to anyone (except for the rape) including his “actions” (and you know what that means – rape) on the night of Jan 17th 2015. Bringing up the fact that this was only his first rape is like bringing up that it’s somebody’s first murder or first terror attack, so it’s still a crime.

Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society, but instead he chose to rape someone, and is totally committed to educating other college students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity, which is irrelevant because he should be talking about how he shouldn’t have raped someone.

By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of drinking and its unfortunate results and get misinformation from a rapist with a light sentence.

Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in an unjust and seriously creepy way.

Very respectfully and ignorantly,

Dan A. (father of a rapist) Turner

Although Brock Turner was caught in the act of raping the woman, he dragged her through a trial in which she was asked intrusive questions that placed the blame for the rape on her. If he was truly “filled with remorse” he would not have done this. At the sentencing, the victim addressed her rapist directly, reading a powerful letter she had written describing the severe impact his actions had on her — from the night she learned she had been assaulted by a stranger while unconscious, to the grueling trial during which Turner’s attorneys argued that she had “eagerly consented.” You can read it HERE. I suggest that you do so you understand the brutality of what he did to her and the perversion of justice that occurred when he was sentenced to only 6 months in jail.

This story has upset me because in every form of abuse, victims are typically blamed for the abuse and the abusive actions are minimized. Not only does the abuser blame his victim and minimize his abuse, but often family and friends do as well. When victims seek help, they typically hear such statements as:

  • BelieveI can’t believe he/she is abusive! He/she is so nice. (Abusers are shapeshifters who often appear nice in public while they abuse their victims in private.
  • Are you sure you aren’t over-reacting?
  • It doesn’t sound so bad.
  • Other people have it worse.
  • But he didn’t hit you…
  • You must have done something to provoke it.
  • You shouldn’t have…..
  • The abuser is just wounded. You need to love or forgive him/her more.

And so on. These types of statements validate what the abuser is telling the victim and makes it even harder to escape the abuser. If a person hears over and over again from everyone in her life that she is to blame for the abuse, that she is over-reacting, that she is taking it wrong, and that she provoked the abuse…guess what? She will start to believe it.

I, myself, endured these types of blaming/minimizing statements when I struggled with my family’s emotional abuse. It kept me in the abuse longer because I thought that it was my fault. I wasn’t enough. I needed to be more loving. I needed to forgive them more. They were just wounded and didn’t know better. It was only when I began learning about abuse, and that it’s impossible to have any sort of relationship with an unrepentant abuser, that I was finally able to escape.

StoryAnd now we have encountered similar victim-blaming and minimizing behavior from EJ’s family. I am going to again write about it because it is so very important to understand the dynamics of abuse and of victim-blaming and minimizing so that we don’t do it and add to the pain of the victims. Although EJ and I kept the matter with his relative private for years, I believe that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak out (Prov. 31:8-9). Evil loves silence and as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It deeply matters to me that victims are further victimized by those who excuse, justify, minimize, and defend abusers and abuse. I do not think EJ’s family will hear, but I will speak about this in order to educate others because the probability is very high that every one of us has or will either experience abuse or know someone who is experiencing abuse. We need to educate ourselves on abuse so we will recognize abuse and know what to do and not do, how to help and not help. We need to stop blaming the victims and excusing the abusers!

As I have written before, I believe that EJ, JJ, and I are suffering from forms of PTSD. It is my understanding that there are two types of PTSD. One is caused by sudden short-term trauma, such as car accidents, natural disasters, or rape. Another type is complex PTSD, which is caused by long-term trauma or stress, such as chronic stress or long-term abuse. We believe that we are all suffering from PTSD from all the difficulties we have experienced for so many years. Sometimes we say to each other that we could never adequately describe to anyone the things we have experienced and survived.

We each suffer a variety of symptoms, some that are similar and some that are different. For example, we all suffer from anxiety and occasional panic attacks, JJ and I suffer from insomnia, and EJ has added physical symptoms. Since we have moved north, we have been gaining strength but stressful situations tend to trigger anxiety. EJ had a routine appointment with his doctor a week or so ago and because she is helping him with his anxiety, he told her about the severe panic attack that was triggered when he learned that his relative’s actions toward our son 12 years ago had been typical victim-grooming behavior of a molester. As he described the situation the doctor repeatedly said, “That is really not good” and she completely agreed with the abuse experts that I had talked to that EJ’s relative’s actions were definitely typical victim-grooming behavior of a molester.

EJ’s siblings had pressured us to have full contact with their relative rather than accept the boundaries of limited contact that we had set for our own family. We didn’t feel that we needed to warn the family of their relative’s lack of integrity–they could decide for themselves how to address it if they wanted to–but when we learned that his behavior was victim-grooming, we felt it was important to alert them to protect any children he came in contact with from possible harm. When we did, the family turned on us and again accused us of being unloving, ungracious, unforgiving, and unChristlike for limiting our exposure to him. One wrote in a group chat that “apparently” I didn’t know that they had been raised to love and support family. None of the family knew the details of what happened–because I had learned from my own family situation how people tend to minimize, justify, and excuse abuse and I didn’t want to have to defend myself against more minimizing statements. Also, we didn’t want to humiliated the relative’s adult children. One sister minimized her relative’s behavior as “possibly being victim-grooming but it also could be completely innocent.” Again, she knew no details of what had happened so how could she possibly judge whether it was “innocent” or not?

Proverbs 17.9I’d like to re-emphasize that EJ and I have had limited contact with the brother for 12 years. In all that time, none of the family knew that we had a problem with the brother because we kept the matter private, we didn’t make a major issue of it, we didn’t gossip to the other members of the family, we didn’t pressure anyone to adhere to the boundaries we quietly set for ourselves, we didn’t set up a situation in which family members felt they had to take sides, and we were not cruel to the brother in any way. The rare times we encountered him at family gatherings, we were polite to him. If we had realized that his behavior was victim-grooming, we would have alerted the family years ago, but we didn’t know and since JJ had said his uncle had not hurt him, we just quietly set our boundaries of low contact. His interaction with our son had “creeped us out” and we also did not want him in our lives because of his other toxic behavior that we had either personally experienced or learned about from other sources.

For several years, I had administered a family group at Facebook. I did not add the relative because I had blocked him on my personal FB page and couldn’t add him, and EJ didn’t want him to know our private contact information after we moved, which was shared in the group. I also didn’t want to make things uncomfortable for other family members who had also been hurt by the relative. I never really had much contact with the relative even before he lived with us other than at family gatherings, so my non-contact was not a problem and he wasn’t really even aware of it. EJ continued to have limited interaction with his relative via Facebook and an occasional phone call. No one in the family realized in all those years that the relative was not a member of the FB group until last winter when a sister asked her relative for his address in the group and I privately told her that he was not a member. I did not tell her details, merely mentioning that we had had a problem with him years ago and that we had little contact with him. EJ and I think it’s very telling that although I had not mentioned our son, she immediately asked “Did he hurt JJ?”

Prov. 26.20A few weeks ago, in a 24 hour period, three family members pressured us to add the relative to the group. In 12 years they didn’t realize that we had low contact with him, and for several years they were totally unaware that he wasn’t a member of the FB group, yet a few months after the one sister discovered his exclusion from the group, suddenly three family members were insisting we add him? Obviously, there was gossip and a planned attempt to pressure us. Because of the public pressure, other family members became aware of the situation, sides were taken, and relationships were adversely affected. Who was the cause of all this upheaval? Not us. None of this had happened for the TWELVE YEARS we had quietly set our boundaries. The turmoil came only when the family discovered the matter and instead of keeping it private, they made it an issue and meddled.

But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs… (I Thess 5:10-11)

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. (1 Peter 4:15)

We were accused of not loving or supporting family. But true love does not engage in “group think”–it does not pressure others to believe, think, and act the same. True love allows others the freedom to make their own choices even if you disagree with them. That’s called “free will.” True love doesn’t disrespect others’ boundaries and decisions. True love doesn’t gossip. And true love does not protect and defend an abusive relative while condemning the righteous one.

And, yes, I would say that my husband is a righteous man. Jesus says by their fruit you will know them and my husband’s “fruit” is indicative of a righteous person. He has great integrity and he is very faithful, gentle, humble, compassionate, and generous. Through the years, he has helped most (if not all) of his relatives at various times when they were in need. Many times he generously and sacrificially helped them anonymously. He has never cheated, manipulated them, stolen from them, or taken advantage of them. On the contrary, their relative has manipulated, cheated, stolen, vandalized, been immoral, and is very likely a molester. If you were to protect, defend, support, or at the very least give the benefit of the doubt to one of these brothers, which do you think it should be?

I like what the Professor said in the book, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe when the other children didn’t believe their sister Lucy’s story about Narnia.

‘How do you know,’ [the Professor] asked, ‘that your sister’s story is not true?’
‘Oh, but-‘ began Susan, and then stopped. Anyone could see from the old man’s face that he was perfectly serious. Then Susan pulled herself together and said, ‘but Edmund said they had only been pretending.’
‘That is a point,’ said the Professor, “which certainly deserves consideration; very careful consideration. For instance – if you will excuse me for asking the question – does your experience lead you to regard your brother or your sister as the more reliable? I mean, which is the more truthful?’
‘That’s just the funny thing about it, sir,’ said Peter. “Up till now, I’d have said Lucy every time.’
‘And what do you think, my dear?’ said the Professor, turning to Susan.
‘Well,’ said Susan, ‘in general, I’d say the same as Peter, but this couldn’t be true – all this about the wood and the Faun.’
‘That is more than I know,’ said the Professor, ‘and a charge of lying against someone you have always found truthful is a very serious thing; a very serious thing indeed.’
‘We were afraid it mightn’t even be lying,’ said Susan; ‘we thought there might be something wrong with Lucy.’
‘Madness, you mean?’ said the Professor quite coolly. “Oh, you can make your minds easy about that. One has only to look at her and talk to her to see that she is not mad.’
‘But then,’ said Susan, and stopped. She had never dreamed that a grown-up would talk like the Professor and didn’t know what to think.
‘Logic!’ said the Professor half to himself. ‘Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.’

EJ relatives declare that they have family love, but their actions toward my husband–who is also their relative–and me is extremely unloving and unmerciful. They have gossiped among themselves, pressured us to violate the boundaries we set for the protection of our own family, supported and defended the “dishonorable” relative, and their actions have caused turmoil and division, has hurt my husband deeply, and affected relationships within the family. I know I’m repeating myself, but I want to drive it home. Is THIS truly family love and support? I think not.

Ok, but is it unloving or unbiblical to have little or no contact with an abusive person? NO. God, who is merciful, gracious, and just, says He deeply cares about the needy, afflicted, and oppressed. He says He came to set the prisoners free and He promises to protect and defend victims of the wicked. Never would He force a victim of abuse to remain in the power and torment of a wicked person. Look at a few of many verses on the topic:

What I wrote you was not to associate with anyone who is supposedly a brother but who also engages in sexual immorality, is greedy, worships idols, is abusive, gets drunk or steals. With such a person you shouldn’t even eat! For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Isn’t it those who are part of the community that you should be judging? God will judge those who are outside. Just expel the evildoer from among yourselves. (1 Cor. 5:11-13).

Moreover, understand this: in the Last Days will come trying times. People will be self-loving, money-loving, proud, arrogant, insulting, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, uncontrolled, brutal, hateful of good, traitorous, headstrong, swollen with conceit, loving pleasure rather than God, as they retain the outer form of religion but deny its power. Stay away from these people! (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. (Romans 16:17)
.
Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spoke to the congregation, saying,“Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” (Numbers 16:25-26)
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Being “family” does not exclude taking these actions. In fact, these verses aren’t talking primarily about strangers but about those who are close to us–family, whether spiritual or biological. But what about the verses telling us to forgive? Notice in Luke 17:3-4 that we are to rebuke a person and to forgive him IF HE REPENTS. “Repentance” means that they have changed their behavior. It’s not a mere “I’m sorry” with a bouquet of flowers and then they return to their abusive actions.
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Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

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Sadly it is very typical of dysfunctional families that when a person begins to set boundaries or to speak out against abuse, the others quickly rush to defend the abuser and to condemn the victim. Many times, even when they actually witness the abuse they will defend the abuser. This doesn’t just happen in families. It also happens in many churches and other groups. This is wrong. We all are ignorant about various things and we all make mistakes but I believe that those who knowingly aid a wicked person shares in his guilt.

It really breaks my heart whenever the wicked are defended and protected and the innocent are condemned.

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. (Exodus 23:1-3)

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2 Comments on “Minimizers

  1. This is really a very sad and again so familiar story and you are right only when a person repent there is forgiveness and we have to set healthy boundaries for ourselves and our loved ones. And however painful it will help us in the end . And we have a Father who will watch over us always and know our hearts. ❤

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