This Victim Can Return to Her Seat

So I got selected for jury duty yesterday and today. As part of the selection process I had to fill out a personal questionnaire. Had I or any member of my family ever been arrested? Was I employed in law enforcement? Had I ever been convicted of a crime? Had I ever been a victim of a crime?

A victim of a crime? There was a time when I would have answered that question no in all good conscience, so deep was my denial. But now I have come to a sad state of resignation that 1) my memories of my experiences are true and valid 2) what I experienced constitutes child abuse regardless of how my parents choose to define it and 3) child abuse is a crime. Have I ever been a victim of a crime? Yes I have. The court may have meant to ask if the crime had been prosecuted, if the perpetrator(s) had been convicted, if I had formally filed charges. They may have meant to ask if the crime was committed while I was an adult or if I knew it was a crime at the time. A hundred reasons to check ‘no’ darted through my head but in the end I knew what I had to do. I checked ‘yes’ and added the explanation: “I was a victim of child abuse”.

I see these kind of questions with uncomfortable frequency. I dread going to the doctor these days. I’ve had to change primary care physicians about once a year lately due to changing insurance coverage and the shortage of physicians in my state as they are leaving in droves. Each new doctor makes me fill out a medical history form and each form includes the question: “Have you ever been abused?” At those times I think wistfully about the days of my blissful state of blindness. Checking ‘yes’ in that box leads to invasively personal follow up questions about the nature of the abuse, the time frame it happened and the dreaded “Are you being abused now?” I cringe at the thought of my husband’s integrity being questions because of the sins of my fathers. I resent needing to explain and re-explain my most personal wounds to complete strangers on a semi-regular basis. I hate the idea that my ancient family wickedness is still here hovering over the lives of the husband and children I want to love, serve and protect.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful that times have changed. If what has happened to me had happened today I would have been rescued from countless wounds. Children today are aware of their rights and have options. A child today that exhibits the classic symptoms I did are questioned, watched and protected. The days of ‘what happens within the walls of a man’s home is nobody’s business but his’ are long gone and the price we pay for the invasion of our privacy is not small, but is worth it.

So back to the courtroom. There I was sitting in my seat – juror number two – dreading that my name would be called. Praying that just this once they’d let it go. But sure enough the judge called my number and asked me to approach the bench. In court whispers in front of the lawyers I was asked to confirm what I wrote. Did I think I would be influenced by my experience as a victim? Did I think I could give a fair and unbiased evaluation of the facts of the case? Then I could return to my seat. At that point the court clerk turned and announced formally to the room full of people: “This victim can return to her seat.”

I don’t think she was even aware of her slip of the tongue. She meant to say “This juror can return to her seat.” But there I was standing in front of a courtroom full of people — called out as a victim. It stung. And I know it will continue to sting. Each time I have to check ‘yes’ in a little box, each time I have to answer follow up questions I’m faced with a choice about how I want to live my life and with the persistent reminder that I’m not like other people. I’m thankful for the healing I’ve gotten. I want more. I know it won’t be easy and that for everything I get I have to give something up. To get the truth I had to give up the lie. In some ways the lie was easier.

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5 thoughts on “This Victim Can Return to Her Seat

  1. I know it wasn’t easy for you, it never is, but I agree- you are brave and showed tremedous courage….and I believe God will honor your honesty…you said that you feel you are not like other people each time you have to check the box with a yes and give an explanation…but you know what; you’re right-you are not like other people-neither am I, instead we are choosing to be and to live as authentic, whole women…and there is honor in that….walk with your head held high my friend…you are not a victim you are a survivor!!! And Victory is yours!!

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  2. Tears…
    Thank you for sharing this….for trusting us with it.

    I SO remember feeling the same way as I went through years of therapy. I had to change therapists a lot because of moving with the military, or the therapists moved, or the insurance changed with my husbands jobs after he got out of the military.

    It was so hard to have to start over at square one with each new therapist…to tell my story yet again. It felt as though I was making no progress at all, but that was a lie. Each time I had to tell my story, I got more comfortable with telling it…well actually, more UNcomfortable at first, but then, later…comfortable…at least I see that now, in retrospect. There was healing in the telling.

    Then, I got the courage to tell it to a few people all at once on a forum on the Internet, where I met Zorro the Tenacious, who some of you may also know. The reception, support, and kind words I received from them gave me even more courage to come out of hiding with my story. Finally, I put it all out there on the Ransomed Heart forums immediately after I arrived there. Each time I told I told my story, Shame’s grasp slipped a bit. When I finally told it in the RH forums, it was like dealing a death blow to Shame. I am completely healed now, I believe, and I have those loving folks to thank for it….at least some of it. Jesus, of course, has my deepest gratitude. They were such a compassionate support at a time when I was shaking in my boots but determined to take a leap of faith. Their love made me so glad I did take that leap!

    So keep telling it, Tears. There is healing in the telling even though it is hard…the hardest thing I ever had to do for sure!

    We are here for you, but more importantly, Jesus is. He loves you with an everlasting love, and what happened to you will make you stronger and and more authentic because of His love for you.

    May you find peace in the telling…..

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