Jodie Foster's character in the 1988 film, The Accused, made audiences think of an important topic that is often shunned in polite conversation. Like the image above, it's an ugly unfortunate reality that many do not want to discuss. Foster's portrayal, based on a true story, allowed audiences to see that the ordeal is more than just the criminal act that defines it, but often includes social ostracizing, victim-blaming, and for many feelings of shame. Often times the perpetrator of sexual assault is not a stranger, but a person the victim trusts, damaging the victim's ability to trust in the future and affecting their relationships. The crime of rape inflicts a psychological and spiritual trauma that is at least as damaging as the physical trauma.
Thankfully, I have never been raped nor has anybody close to me. I have considered the issue over the past several years, as part of required training. Our service has made dealing with sexual assault a top priority.
For me, however, I think I better understand the strain of sexual assault from a couple of experiences with law enforcement. I'm not suggesting the experiences are the same, just that they have real similarities. In some of my experiences those I trusted to protect me instead unlawfully used violence, or the threat of violence, to desecrate my right to liberty - making a claim over my body, seizing me and not allowing me to go until they were done with me. The others I know who have had similar experiences also describe the fear, the feeling of powerlessness, and the humiliation that comes from having a person in a position of trust use violence or the threat of violence to abuse them as if their lives and rights meant nothing.
It's not the physical that is the most important aspect. It's the psychological trauma. It's the trust utterly destroyed. Many experts claim that rape is more concerned with power, than it is about the physical manifestation of that power. The feeling of powerlessness at the hands of somebody you believed was trustworthy, makes it more difficult to trust others.
Foster's movie character also demonstrates a victim that is accused and shamed by others after her victimization. When she is not silent and does not go quietly and just accept her victimization, others begin to accuse and blame her. Her character is victim-bashed. "Look at her unorthodox outfit!" "She went to the bar knowing what goes on there. She was playing with fire and shouldn't be surprised that she got burned." Despite her victimization, Foster's character bore the brunt of the accusations rather than the men who raped her. Somehow she was herself to blame for her own victimization. When others blame the victim, and courageous attempts at accountability result in the victim being further blamed, the damage to the vulnerable is multiplied layer by layer.
Air Force Reserve Major Bryan T. Gray Confused by American Flag
That brings me to Bryan T Gray, who recently publicly commented about the checkpoint encounter where I was required to stop by law and be questioned by a group of armed public servants, who are paid by Americans who place their trust in them to man such checkpoints. Gray responded in a discussion about my encounter saying:
Bryan is a pilot that I used to fly with years ago, who took a solemn oath, before God, to support and defend the Constitution and to "bear true faith and allegiance" to it, and yet felt the need to apologize to those who had violated the constitutional rights of another. Perhaps Bryan is of the opinion, "Look, at the outfitting of his car, he had cameras, how unorthodox! He went there knowing what goes on there. He was playing with fire and shouldn't be surprised that he got burned." Perhaps he's part of the "just lay back and it will be quick" or "who really cares, it was only thirty-four minutes of your life," or the "there was no permanent damage" or perhaps part of the "don't make a big deal out of this, just move on with your life" crowd. I don't know. I've tried to contact Bryan, but he has yet to respond, so I'm just speculating on why he feels the need to apologize to those who violated the Constitution he swore and is paid to defend. Maybe he will pay a visit here and explain his public comment. Maybe he will tell me what he thinks the word, "violated" means or can explain what "true faith" means to him. He has been invited to join the discussion.
As it stands now, he doesn't appear to know the value of faith or an oath to God. And I have to wonder if he would apologize to the two men in the picture above, for Jodie Foster's rude behavior.