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Rachel’s Dilemma (1.26.18)

I just read a news feed title from the Washington Post saying “USA Gymnastics says entire board of directors will resign in wake of Larry Nassar scandal, as requested by U.S. Olympic Committee.” What’s wrong with this picture? Everything.

First and foremost, we have the President of the United States, Donald Trump (I never put the title and this man’s names together, because he is too offensive of a human being to be called President _____ ) officially on an Access Hollywood tape stating that, “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” He also brags, “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” because he is rich and famous and he can’t help himself. There are many examples of Donald Trump sexually assaulting women, yet this man got elected POTUS. And 54% of white women voted for him.

Second, “scandal” is the wrong word for this news feed. The correct word to use is tragedy. How in the fuck can this widespread abuse continue in the “wake” of the Penn State Scandal and the Catholic Church scandal. BTW – “wake” is related to the word “awake,” therefore let’s wake up people and become alert, aware, and more vigilant to prevent sexual abuse for everyone.

Third, isn’t the pot (U.S. Olympic Committee) calling the kettle (USA Gymnastics) black? Who’s responsible here? Everyone. Following is a quote from a Washington Post articlestating:

“It’s a timeline of people and organizations accused of failure to aggressively respond to suspicions of abuse that includes institutions under fire this week: Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee, but also the FBI, a local police force, a local gymnastics center, and the parents of several victims, along with others they say they consulted before deciding not to contact law enforcement.”

Fourth, why are Members of the Board of Directors resigning from every organization across the board as if they are changing direction in their lives and careers. People in leadership positions associated with wrongdoing in these sexual assault cases should be FIRED, not be able to resign. Resigning is inappropriate. Resigning means that they are giving up or letting go. These folks should be FIRED and feel the scorch of flames from their inactions to protect another human being from harm.

Fifth, look how systemic this sexual abuse problem is and this is with only ONE organization. To our knowledge, there are 7 layers of gatekeepers that fucked up here. These 156+ girls should have never been abused. My heart goes out to each and every victim/survivor.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein/Matt Lauer/U.S. Congress #MeToo movement, I was reflecting on the gatekeepers in those systems that had an opportunity to stop the crimes. The people that booked hotel rooms for Harvey and sent women to “meet” with him. Matt Lauer’s assistant that took the young woman who passed out to see a nurse in the “wake” of him fucking her in his office. Don’t forget the staff of Sen. John Conyers observing him massaging female co-workers during meetings. That would raise some red flags for me.

Perpetrators are fully responsible for their actions, however gatekeepers are partially responsible for not stopping and breaking these patterns of abuse. What is painful for me is that my own mother was a gatekeeper for my sexual assault experiences. I love my mother and I believe that she honestly did not know that my father was sexually abusing me, however deep down inside she had to know something was not right. All of the signs and symptoms were present. All she had to do was look deeper. Ask questions. Pay attention to her daughter in a different way. My God, I was licking my knuckles raw in 4th grade like a wounded animal.

My three daughters are being raised by a woman, me, who was sexually abused by her father for 12 years. Although the trauma did not happen to them, they are feeling aspects of this abuse. It’s called collateral damage, residual abuse, trickle down trauma.

Rachel, my middle daughter, currently age 14, has been obsessed with gymnastics since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. We read Simon Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, and Shawn Johnson’s autobiographies as a girl family for bedtime stories as a result of her ignited interest. Rachel idolizes Simon Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman, etc. She follows these girls’ newsfeeds – their social media. I realized in the past two weeks that Rachel is at a significant milestone in her adolescence. Her mother was sexually abused and now she has learned that her idols, her role models, her stars in the media were also sexually abused in one of the largest sexual abuse cases in the public airwaves. How frightening for Rachel to see role models, including me, in her life traumatized by male people in power – my father and these girls’ physician. No one was there to protect us, to guide us, to educate us. We were taught by society and the adults that we were to trust these individuals. For me, I knew it was wrong, I just couldn’t overpower and stop my father. For the gymnasts, they were caught in a system that protected their perpetrator – a system that valued ego, fame, and fortune over listening and doing the right thing to protect young vulnerable girls from potential harm.

Imagine the trickle down trauma from this group of women. They are women now, but they were children when it began, just like me. These gymnasts are all tough as nails competitors, but this challenge, this road to recovering from sexual abuse, is all about being vulnerable and exposing the pain to clear it out, and everyone has to do it their own way. I’m not an expert. I’m a survivor, and I’m here for the gymnasts. These 156+ women experienced a repetitive, horrific pain and trauma that was totally unnecessary. I am deeply sorry for these women’s losses, for their pain, for their suffering, for their trauma, for their confusion, for their loss of innocence, for their loss of self-discovery, for their issues surrounding trust, for the loss of discovering sex with a partner of their choosing, and for their loss of self.

The good news for these gymnasts is that they have better resources available to them than when my story erupted out of my body in 1984. Can you imagine the team of experts these women will receive to guide them through this horror? They’ll have the best of the best. They’re athletes. They’re heroines. They also have an amazing, immediate support group available to them – the Army of Survivors, an Army of Female Warriors. It still sucks beyond belief. I’m not diminishing their pain in the least, but at least they are not alone on their path to wholeness. BTW – for those of you who have figured out how to break the association of an orgasm with your perpetrator, please let me know that secret. I’m still searching for that Holy Grail.

To all the women out there that feel like they are on their healing journey alone. You’re not alone. I’m here for you. We’ve been working together since I publicly stated my abuse storyon January 28, 2016. I’m proud of me. And I’m proud of you. Let’s create our own Army of Female Goddesses and make Rachel’s dilemma #herstory and reclaim our bodies, our minds, our spirits, and our sisterhood. It’s not about us versus them. Male versus female. It’s about humanity. Damn, there we go again with another word for “all people” based on masculine energy and terminology. Okay, it’s about huwomanity.


P.S. Not to rain on this parade, but things in the news are going to get worse. As a gerontologist, I learned in graduate school about elderly people in retirement communities and nursing homes being sexually assaulted. I just peaked at an article on NPR sharing that people with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at 7x the rate of people without disabilities. It’s a crime that often goes unrecognized and unpunished. Let the shit clear, be cleared, and let’s redirect this dysfunctional energetic pattern. God help us.