Sunday, February 25, 2007

Unforgiving Rape Victims Who Keep Asking For Justice

There's another story about the rape where the man, William Beebe, wrote a letter to his rape victim years later as part of his Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step process. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated sexual battery and is supposed to cooperate with the investigation of other men involved with this rape. His sentencing is scheduled for March 15.

I noticed that the original headline was Man Seeks Forgiveness for 1984 Rape but has since been replaced by the headline Rape Victim Seeks Long Path to Justice. That original headline contains a clear bias in favor of an admitted rapist and undermines the story it was attached to.

Was this apology meant to help her - or him? Her skepticism grew when they broached the topic of what happened that night in 1984. While most of the details remained painfully fresh, she wrote, she needed to know everything in order to heal. "Were you my only attacker?" she asked. "I clearly have an impression of this being either a gang rape or a 'spectator sport' for the rushees. No names, please. But the nightmares for me must end."

Beebe's account, however, was disturbingly different from hers. "I 'convinced' you after what seemed like hesitation, that staying w/ me in my room upstairs was better than walking all the way back to the suites," he wrote. "Of course, seeing opportunity to have a good time w/ you overrode any gentlemanly efforts to return you safely back to the dorms." "We started to make out in my room a while," he continued. "There was no fight and it was all over in short order. When we awoke in the morning it was still chilly out, so i lent you my jean jacket, and you walked home." "There were no other men present. I was the only one."

Seccuro was outraged. If this was his account, what was he atoning for?
What I find enlightening is how closely his romanticized version of raping her matches what many men -- and women to a lesser degree -- say must have happened whenever they hear about a claim of rape where the alleged rapist wasn't a stranger jumping out of the bushes.

Did he hope that she wouldn't remember enough to know his story was a bold-faced lie? Or did he try to spin the story in his own mind so he could deny what he'd done to another human being? Maybe if he repeated this version often enough he could almost convince himself that's what really happened?

In this case, there are clear indicators of premeditated disabling of the victim. There's nothing romantic or gentlemanly involved. After all those years he was still trying to manipulate and control her. And some people have the gall to think there was something wrong with her for not letting him succeed.

It's clear to me he wanted her to let him off the hook without requiring him to ever fully put himself ON the hook. If he wants atonement or forgiveness -- that will make any difference in his life -- he will need ditch the whitewashing.

Asking for forgiveness without accurate ownership of the wrong -- including taking the consequences of those actions -- is a scam.

Men who rush to the defense of admitted and alleged rapists by putting forth alternative realities wonder why they are called rape apologists and viewed as possible rapists. When you talk like a rapist don't act persecuted when you are viewed with deep suspicion.


Seccuro was in for another shock. While much of the public reaction was supportive, some of it was not.

E-mails and letters arrived, threatening her with everything from rape to dismemberment. Other messages were less extreme but still stung - mainly from Christians condemning her for pressing charges, admonishing her to forgive.

But she was a Christian, too, and she HAD forgiven Beebe. Couldn't she forgive and still want justice? Couldn't she forgive and still feel anger?
Ironic that this response was sparked by someone not letting a rapist get away with rape. Where is their forgiveness for this woman's decision to pursue justice?

Oh, wait. Apparently, forgiveness is for rapists only.

It sounds like many "Christians" are taking her decision far too personally. Maybe they subscribe to the brand of Christianity where the only difference is one of forgiveness.

I have a real problem with those who push rape victims to forgive their rapists.

But to Seccuro, forgiveness was never the issue. To her, it's very simple. The apology was for him. Justice is for her.
I agree. And those who disagree are rapist advocates whether they intend to be or not.

For me the bottom line is that letting rapists off the hook in the name of forgiveness does absolutely nothing to deter future rapes. "Hey, all you gotta do is join AA and then apologize for any "hurt" you may have caused."

Wrong. All you gotta do is say no to committing rape or being an accomplice to rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:12 PM   4 comments links to this post

4 Comments:

At February 26, 2007 9:16 AM, Blogger The Speaker said...

Thank you for this.
My family thinks I am suffering from my unforgiveness .

When my mother's rapist asked for forgiveness he stated, "If I have every done anything to hurt you I apologize."

She nodded and thus, according to the females of my family has forgiven him. I however choose not to allow someone who robbed something very precious from you to get off that easy. He hasn't even made the admission by saying "if". That would be like someone robbing my house, stealing everything I own and showing up a few months later without my stuff saying "If I've ever done anything to hurt you, I apologize". I might as well assume that this person took my parking spot or was the "idiot" who cut me off in traffic last week.

If and Forgiveness can not go in the same place.
That do not belong together.
Forgiveness for something as shattering in its effects as rape is devine.
And without devine intervention there will be no forgiveness for such devestations.

 
At February 26, 2007 9:20 AM, Blogger The Speaker said...

I forgot to add something.
In response to
"For me the bottom line is that letting rapists off the hook in the name of forgiveness does absolutely nothing to deter future rapes. "Hey, all you gotta do is join AA and then apologize for any "hurt" you may have caused."

Rape and sexual abuse are both generational evils. They spread. One of the primary reasons incest and sexual abuse within familys and close friends continues is because of this vague idea of forgiveness and forgive and forget.

 
At July 25, 2008 3:15 PM, Anonymous Kristen said...

I was raped 9 years ago when I was 17. The man who raped me never stepped foot in a courtroom to face rape charges. I have yet to forgive him for not only what he did to me but what he took away from me. Forgiving the person who raped you is much easier said than done. I am not suffering still because I haven't forgiven him. I am suffering still because of what he did to me. For some forgivness comes faster and easier than for others. I for one am not sure I will ever be able to forgive him for what he did to me. I would also like to say that I am a Christian and I feel like if and when a rape victim is ready to forgive then he/she will. If they never come to a point in their live where they can forgive you know what; that is their choice. I'm not sure I feel like rapists deserve forgivness from their victims.

 
At January 27, 2010 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is much later, but maybe it can still be a help to some. To Kristen, I too was raped and have been wondering whether or not to forgive my rapist. Until I found this article. It makes it clear that you only have to forgive them if they repent, if they are sorry for what they have done. And that would mean more than merely saying, "If I ever done anything to hurt you..."

http://www.nwchurch-of-god.org.uk/docs/Should%20Christians%20Forgive.pdf

 

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