I read a statement this week from Rev. David Sweet regarding the sentencing and imprisonment of his dad.
Charles Sweet, a former deacon at Hays Hills Baptist church, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for to molestation of two young girls.
David Sweet’s statement simply made me cry, because I know David and his family. The horror that his family has lived through over the past few years is tremendous. David did the right thing when he found out about the abuse, calling police. But charges were not filed at that time – in 2012 – and David Sweet took away his father’s car and basically made sure his dad did not leave the house. Charles Sweet also was never allowed in any church again.
David’s daughter and another victim stood up in the courtroom and gave their emotional speeches, confronting the man who abused them so many years ago.
One of the two women said in the courtroom that she tries to avoid attention and frequently has nightmares.
There’s not much that you can say to young women who have been through this kind of horror, other than to say women around the area envelop you with hugs and know what you are going through.
Women and girls who have faced sexual assault or molestation so often blame themselves. They believe they dressed wrong, were in the wrong place, weren’t on guard enough against predators.
But no one can ever, ever blame these young girls for what they went through. Heck, you can’t blame women, like me, who were raped. We didn’t ask for abuse, we couldn’t fight off the men. Quite simply, we are not to blame.
Nor are we victims.
We are survivors.
We go through hundreds of hours of therapy, trying to get our lives back on track. We look back and see that, no, we did nothing wrong. Only society makes us feel as if we did.
My therapist told me more than 25 years ago that there can be a silver lining in these kind of abuses. We grow stronger, we become leaders, we understand the world a lot better than people who have never dealt with tragedy.
So, to the two young women who are now looking at their futures:
Never forget that we are all here for you.
Understand that we know what it is like to be scared.
Know that you will become stronger because of the love of your family.
Live for the future and pass forward your strength.
Because the fight has not ended, and only the survivors can join arms and put an end to this kind of horrendous abuse.