On The Moral Agency Of Victims
I'd like to briefly talk about the moral agency of victims.
The topic of my own moral agency has been raised a few times, so I'll discuss my own sense of guilt during and after the abuse. Abuse creates a prison of shame and guilt around the victim. I blamed myself for every aspect of the abusive relationship I was in with Jamin. I felt guilty for deceiving my parents when they'd ask if I had anything I needed to share with them. I felt guilty for the myriad of character shortcomings Jamin pointed out in me. I felt guilty for cutting my friends out of my life. I felt guilty for telling my dad I didn't want him to hug me goodnight or hold my hand anymore. I felt guilty for begging God's forgiveness for the 'sexual sin' I was in and then doing it again the next day. As for the sexual acts themselves, I didn't blame Jamin for those because he told me I was the one seducing him.
I was ruled by guilt.
In order to get to a place where I felt comfortable enough to talk about what happened to me, I had to find a place for much of the guilt I'd carried for years. Some of that guilt was merited. Most of it was not.
The guilt I felt about my years long deception toward my parents was merited. The night I told my mom about the abuse I asked her forgiveness for lying to her for over 4 years about what had been going on. I knew that was wrong. It didn't matter why I'd lied to her, I was raised to honor and respect my parents and lying to them was wrong.
So yes, I did have a moral responsibility to be my honest to my parents and I didn't do that. I asked for my parent's forgiveness and they gave it, and that guilt was gone.
The unmerited guilt far outweighed the rest, and I've carried the remnants of that guilt for 13 years even though it was never rightly mine.
Abuse tarnishes its victims from the inside out and our job is to help accomplish exactly the opposite of that. When we insist on discussing the moral agency of victims before we've adequately loved them and reassured them they're worthy of love, we alienate them and further break down trust. Learning to trust again after abuse is a delicate process and one that demands mindfulness and patience. It demands that we set aside our judgement and open our arms.
Giving victims a safe place to shed their tears is far more important than giving them something else to grieve over.