The recent #MeToo movement has been both praised and ridiculed by liberals and conservatives alike.
People have applauded these women for having the courage to share their accounts of sexual harassment. We have offered our sympathy, while many parents have communicated the realities of predatory behavior by men to their daughters, in hopes that they will be vigilant in recognizing this unacceptable intrusiveness against their bodies. They are also being told to be observant and watch for signs peers might display that would raise a red flag of possible abuse they could be personally experiencing.
We have also seen opposition to the movement from some women who challenge the victims motive by questioning the timing of their revelation and assuming that the victim has an ulterior motive other than holding the accused accountable for their actions.
There are others that resist the movement because they do not want women regarded as perpetual victims or add to the weaker sex myth.
These cynics attempt to minimize the accusations at times by employing the “maybe you just don’t get his brand of humor or is it possible you misconstrued his intentions?” line of questioning to cast doubt on a victims memory.
Men and women have come forth recently with allegations of impropriety by Hollywood executives and politicians even though the incidents may have happened many years ago.
A question we hear replicated over and again is “Why now?”
America’s answer to a question no one asked, Tomi Lahren and her Fox News narrow-minded gang of dense dupes, would instead have people believe that a person would make up a disturbing accusation just to be opportunistic, never-mind that they for receive death threats while losing any sense of privacy for themselves and their family and friends.
Why didn’t this victim notify someone immediately after the offense occurred instead of waiting years to come forth? Why did they wait until so and so started running for office? Why smear the name of a beloved and talented actor now?
The decision of when to tell anyone that someone has violated you is not something that a victim spends much time deliberating. There is no thought of holding on to the invasion and waiting months or years for just the right time to come forward with the crime details in hopes of destroying the perpetrators’ aspirations and when it would hurt that person the most.
In many cases, the victim has immediately decided that they must tell someone as soon as they comfortably can do so.
They do not contemplate any other option.
Someone else has got to know what just happened to them. Maybe if someone else is informed, the victim won’t feel so helpless, isolated and betrayed. Someone has to know. There will be some comfort in that; there must be. I know because I told someone immediately.
I will delve a little deeper to what happened to me when I was fifteen years old and what lead to that incident a little later.
I want you to know that I tried to tell someone.
I did tell someone.
I had to tell someone.
While I genuinely feel that victims want to share the ordeal with someone quickly following the assault, I assume that there are those that did not confide in anyone out of fear of retaliation, fear of ridicule, or a sense of shame.
There will be the shame, but it must never be directed at the victim and used to accuse them of bringing on the assault.
Slut-shaming has become commonplace, especially on social media sites.
Slut-shaming is when a victim is blamed for the offense because she/he drew attention to themselves by their flirtatious behavior or the provocative way they may have dressed.
In other words — they were asking for it.
I do not care if a person is promiscuous or a heavy drinker. I do not care if a person has low self-esteem and welcomes extra attention from others.
No will always mean no.
There will always be only one cause of rape.
The. Rapist. Period.
Another reason that a victim might not have shared the incident was that there was no one around that they felt they could trust and finally spoke up once empowered to so after someone else had come forth with allegations regarding the same perpetrator. They were able to draw strength from others once they realize that they were not the lone victim.
There can be many reasons why these tales of abuse never got documented or investigated.
In many circumstances, they did tell someone, and nothing happened. No one believed them. The accuser was labeled a liar.
I was called a liar to my face.
The first person I told was a peer. A friend. A child, like me. There was nothing that the fifteen-year-old was empowered to do, and I do not fault them at all.
Should I blame the Farmers Branch and Richardson police departments for not doing more when I tried to report the incident almost two years later in 1986?
I became a member of The Order of DeMolay in 1984. This organization is for young men aged 12 to 21 to develop civic awareness, personal responsibility, and leadership skills. I don’t think I cared about any of that. I don’t recall if I was excited about it, if I wanted to join or if I was doing it to fit in and be cool. It is no secret that I was a misfit, and I am pretty sure I was just happy to feel like I belonged.
Past DeMolay members or “brothers” include Bill Clinton and John Wayne. I don’t remember who told me about DeMolay or any of the events that lead me to their doorstep. I know that I joined along with two or three high school friends.
I do not have any issues with the organization or any of its’ members. I found it to be fun at first. I was surprised and excited by the rituals and oaths that we had to memorize.
“In the presence of God, and with my right hand upon His holy word, on my honor, as one who holds his pledged word sacred, do solemnly promise, that I will keep all the secrets, entrusted to me by this Order.”
That is an excerpt from the DeMolay Oath.
I was not entrusted by them to keep this secret; the secret was always mine to tell.
My chapter of DeMolay met in Farmers Branch, Texas, a little northern suburb of Dallas, where I grew up. All sections of the DeMolay receive sponsorship by a Masonic Lodge or another Masonic group. We had a leader or sponsor by the name of Joel Sayers or “Dad” Sayers. It did not take much effort to trust him, especially if you had never really had any issue placing trust in an adult.
I won’t detail the physical assault I experienced, not now, for fear of not wanting to remind myself too much of the specifics, and I don’t want to upset any family member that may read this with vivid illustrations that they may not be capable of dealing with so unexpectedly.
Dad Sayers had been sexually inappropriate with me.
I was called a liar by the friends that had joined the organization when I had entered. A hearing was to be conducted to address my accusations, but that assembly was nothing more than a reprimand for allegedly circulating falsehoods.
It was Dad Sayers that walked me into the hearing. He told me that people were saying I was spreading rumors.
I was not a fighter back then. Just telling people that it happened made me feel like I was bothering them. I was not comfortable with confrontations. I sat there and took it.
The organization canceled my membership, or I was getting exiled, either one, both or vice versa. I never returned to the club. The specifics of the termination are long forgotten. The feeling of being scrutinized remains.
A couple of years later I heard the term statute of limitations for the first time. A statute of limitation is the maximum length of time that parties have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense.
I was almost 17 years old, and I guess I had looked it up or asked someone about those limitations, and from what I remember, I had two years from the incident to do something legal about it.
I pulled out the big thick heavy yellow pages phone book; my contemporaries will fondly remember that this was our “Google” since personal computers and the Internet was not a reality to us just yet. I looked up the Farmers Branch Police Department phone number and called. I told the officer that answered what had happened. He said that this was a severe issue and wanted to help but that although I lived in Farmers Branch, the incident had occurred at Sayers’ home and that was in nearby Richardson. I called the Richardson Police Department and told the officer that answered what had happened, and when I gave the address, he said that street was on the border of Richardson and Dallas and that this would be a job for the City of Dallas. I don’t remember if I called Dallas, I only know that I gave up.
It was not easy to summon up the strength to revisit that night and make those calls. I wasn’t going to do it again.
It was in the past now.
Years later I was working at an Eckerd Drugs as a Photo Lab Manager when a conversation with a long time customer took on the topic of DeMolay, and we discovered that we were DeMolay brothers. Someplace in our discussion, I mentioned Joel Sayers. This man suddenly stared at me as if he knew what I wasn’t saying out loud. I sensed that he recognized my unspoken revelation. We never said a word about it. He did tell me that Sayers was dead. I don’t recollect if he told me how he died or when he died. To this day, I still don’t know.
I suppose hearing that Sayers had passed did bring closure of some sort. I never think about it.
I am telling this story to demonstrate the point that when someone speaks of being a victim of molestation or harassment and you believe that they took their sweet time in saying anything about it, don’t assume they didn’t try or that it was easy for them.
I tried. I did not get the justice I believed I deserved. It was a different time. I persisted as well as I knew how to at that age.
I didn’t seek the help of my parents, although my mother heard about it from a friend years after the incident. I only recently learned from my mother that she called Joel Sayers and threatened his life and told him she was going to call the police and assured him that he was not ever going to get away with it.
She told me recently that he pleaded with her to not tell anyone.
My mother asked a few members of DeMolay to testify, but they were afraid to be a part of all that.
Maybe I did get that justice after all.
Thank you, mom.
We must take allegations seriously, but we must be fair in not declaring a person guilty before they have their day in court.
Joel Sayers will never have that privilege.
If you make an accusation, be sure that you are ready for what is next. The result may not be what you expected. At the very least, we have to speak our truth.
We will empower people by sharing our stories.
On a side note, Thank you, Dr. Christine Blasy Ford, for being the strong influential person you are. Many victims came forth because you gave them strength. You risked everything to do the right thing. You are heroic.
My wish is that you draw strength from us.
I wish you every sweet-imagined blessing you ever wanted.
You deserve it.