180 Comments


  1. What would you have non-survivors do when hearing things like “legitimate,” “God’s plan,” or a complete lack of understanding of biology used in connection with rape?

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    1. crosis101

      Sounds like she wants everyone just to shut up about it. So in short, say nothing.

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      1. pattyayers

        Actually the post is addressed specifically to “politicians”, who she is asking to stop pontificating about rape, and using the subject for political gain.

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      2. Marcia

        Dear Person Who Didn’t Sign Your Name To Your Comment,
        Thanks for reading. I hope you will take a deep breath and read through my letter again. The invitation is not for politicians to shut up, it’s for them to approach this issue with a different goal in mind than political gain. Most importantly my invitation is for survivors not to shut up, because that is what these politically charged exchanges empty of people who’ve actually been through it enforce–silencing. For instance, it would be humanizing for you to have addressed your comments to me using my name, and to allow me the courtesy of knowing yours. Maybe acknowledging and listening to voices that are often lost in the political shuffle could get us to a different place. Hopefully we won’t all say nothing, but something more honest.
        Peace,
        Marcia

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        1. Deb

          Thank you Marcia for saying what I have not been able to say. Once at 16, then, again by a trusted friends spouse at 27, and a third time in a new state with a “new” life at 43. The pain and emotional suffering is beyond measure and your words not only give me some form of comfort but a sense of relief. Not one instance was my fault yet I take full responsibility as most of us do. I will never be the same yet only other survivors will understand that. Again, thank you.

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          1. Marcia

            Dear Deb,
            Thank you for reading and for sharing some of the pain of your story. I am holding you in the light as you live each day and work to stay connected to yourself and to others. With such repeated harm, with such excruciating loss it is so very difficult to do both of those things: live each day and stay connected. I am praying for deep healing for you and for new possibilities to unfold from your capacity to stay tuned in to what you need and who you are. Somedays taking deep breaths is all there is for me to hold on to it seems. Other days I am startled by some new unexpected vitality in me, regeneration that I hadn’t thought was possible. May God’s Spirit be present and palpable to you in all the ways you need. Thank you again, Deb. Your reaching out is a gift to me and to many others.
            Peace,
            Marcia

        2. Patti

          Hi Marcia,

          Thank you for saying this out loud! I, too, am a survivor and it helps to hear your protest in such elegant terms. I spent too many years lacking appreciation for the impact of my early experience but everything you say hits home and makes me feel less alone.

          Thanks again!
          Patti

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          1. Marcia

            Dear Patti,
            Thank you for reading and for your comment. You put it so clearly and so well: “lacking appreciation for the impact of my early experience.” The weight and the depth of sexual violence is hard to take in and our bodies hold it all so tenaciously and mysteriously. I spent many years denying the impact and thinking I could just “move on.” I realized through the way trauma finds a way to keep hold that I was never going to be “over it.” I could, however, learn ways to notice, acknowledge, grieve, and even regenerate out of a different kind of attentiveness and truth telling. The amazing invitation of “appreciating the impact” is that it can provide opportunities along the way for some redemption, so new life to unfold that we may never know if we keep trying to deny it all. In the end, the body makes that kind of denial impossible; the question is how much we honor that cellular wisdom that we all have. You are not alone, Patti! And I am thankful that you have made me and others feel not as alone, too.
            Peace,
            Marcia

      3. duggles

        Wow, did you even read this article?

        “If you really want to know some of the ways God shows up in sexual trauma, I can tell you my story. If you really want to know about the excruciating complexity of raising a child conceived in rape, I know women who speak in poetry, painting, and fragments about the ambiguity, the love, the shadows. If you really want to know what it’s like to keep a horrible secret because you think no one will believe you, there are many of us who can show you in our eyes, in our hunched shoulders, in our determination what the lonely passage of time is like.

        If you want to hear our stories, the cacophonous voices of those who actually live these truths, then you’ve got to stop speaking for us.”

        She is saying to get your context from real sources and not tools with an agenda who cannot empathize and clearly do not sympathize.

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        1. Marcia

          Thank you for hearing me. I appreciate your support and affirmation.
          Peace,
          Marcia

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      4. Deligth Craft

        Try reading her letter with an open mind…maybe you will understand Marcia she is saying…you are way off point!

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        1. Marcia

          Dear Deligth,
          Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for hearing me.
          Peace,
          Marcia

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    2. Marcia

      Dear Emma,
      Thank you for reading and for your question. I wish you could tell me more about your question because I don’t completely understand it. Are you asking me what steps people who don’t live with trauma can take to respond to survivors in compassionate, healing ways? Or are you asking me to provide other political strategies that politicians can use to respond to statements about rape that conflict with their religious beliefs and/or with medical science? Those are two very different questions.
      If your question is the first one, then I would say there are lots and lots of ways that people can respond compassionately to those who have trauma. I’ve written extensively about it in my book, Let the Bones Dance, and in other writing on my blog and some that is in the pipeline to be published in a new anthology about women’s experience. You might find some of those writings helpful and responsive to your query if this is what you are asking. I am happy to direct you to other sources, too.

      If your question is the second one, then my answer is that political rhetoric always runs the risk of violating real life experience because politics is a zero-sum, winner takes all dynamic. So, politicians who seek a more constructive way to respond to comments like Mr. Mourdock’s and Mr. Akin’s must check their intention before dispatching their rhetoric if they really want to make the world a kinder, more healing place for survivors of sexual trauma. If their intention is to gain political points, to use rape to one up their opponent, and to secure votes then they may miss an opportunity to respond with integrity. A response that is intended to really connect with survivors and to signal themselves as an ally for survivors may not have a lot of political pay off. For instance, the Obama campaign used Mr. Mourdock’s statement to take a shot at Romney’s stance on healthcare. Maybe that scored them some political points, but it is not a healing/helpful/compassionate response. A compassionate response would focus less on one’s opponent and more on the actual issue at hand. Such a response could make more space for the truth of what rape is to emerge in our public discourse, to let voices long silenced to be heard. These voices may or may not render a political stance easily discernible. These voices may be more ambiguous than partisan. It’s perhaps not as compelling politically, but it is more honest and more constructive and healing in the long run. This dynamic mirrors many of the problems our justice system has when trying to address sexual violence.
      I don’t know if I have answered your questions. I appreciate you taking the time to read and to reach out.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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      1. Janet Beatty

        Ah, Marcia, what an oxymoron to link politician and integrity in the same breath. You know me and you know I stand with you and others in this, but sadly, even if it weren’t an election cycle, I think that those who aspire to political offices must first have their integrity surgically removed. It isn’t just rape that is being tossed around like a used football. Look at Ann Coulter’s comment about “retards.” We have a national shame in our political system. Although your letter to the politicians is “right on” it is those of us on the ground that need to hear AND SPEAK the message over and over and over and over. Keep on, my friend!

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        1. Marcia

          Dear Janet,
          Thank you for reading and for commenting. I certainly understand your cynicism which makes me all the more grateful for your affirmation and your support. And I know you do that work “on the ground” every day. And to you–keep on, my friend!
          Peace,
          Marcia

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  2. Sarah Woods

    Thank you for telling your story and for speaking to the anguish of rape survivors.

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    1. Marcia

      Dear Sarah,
      Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for sharing your gratitude with me. All of those things mean a lot to me.
      Blessings to you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Neely,
      Thank you for your comment and for reading this piece so closely and carefully. You have given me a great gift in doing that.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Julie. I am in good company if I’m of similar mind with you! I just read your piece. Powerful, clear, affirming. Thank you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Alise. I appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

  3. From a fellow rape survivor, thank you. I am so tired of it all. I don’t even want to respond to the latest comments. I just want to pull my blankets over my head and sleep all day and hope that I wake up and all of this was a dream. God. I’m so sick of it.

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    1. Marcia

      Dear Sarah,
      Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments. I hear you. I, too, am exhausted by these conversations and repeatedly hesitant to speak up and out. I, too, often feel like disappearing, retreating. It can be too much. Blessings to you, Sarah, in your walk, in your life. My prayers are with you as you and all of us as you find your way and we all find our way through this deeply hurtful political conversation.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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    1. Marcia

      Dear Bethany,
      Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for sharing.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  4. Dave

    Marcia – Astonishing, powerful piece of writing. Thank you. I can only guess what changes in the life of a woman who has been raped, and so cannot speak for survivors. However, when politicians say something stupid and insensitive about rape or about survivors, my inclination is to call them out on it, for their insensitivity, for their hurtfulness, and frankly for their stupidity. That level of refusal to understand has no place being where laws get written. It has no place in the government of a country which purports to value religious liberty, since the refusal to acknowledge the pain and suffering of rape victims seems heavily based in (misinformed) religious tradition. And it is politically driven, because those statements are made to garner votes from the many who are quite prepared to throw rape survivors out, in the interest of maintaining some kind of fantasy purity of their faith tradition. Not to acknowledge the political driver of the hurtful statements would diminish the ability to replace them with compassion. So while i kind of understand your plea to deal with the human stories behind the claims, it remains important, I think, to deal directly with the political intentions and consequences of the hurtful statements that get made.

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    1. Marcia

      Dear Dave,
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I am wondering if you are suggesting that dealing with human stories and responding to hurtful statements are mutually exclusive. I doubt that you would think that judging from your comments here. So, I would need to hear a little bit more about the distinction you are making at the end of your comments. The heart of what I am saying calls into question the validity of political intentions being the driving force behind the stances and rhetoric people put out there about rape, I am not questioning the validity of holding people accountable for statements that are inaccurate and hurtful.
      Thank you again, Dave. I hope to hear more about your concerns.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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  5. Kathy

    Wow, so powerfully spoken; thank you so much for your articulate and thoughtful piece. It expressed so much of what I think and feel, but have not had the energy to say.

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    1. Marcia

      Dear Kathy,
      Thank you for your response and your affirmations. I understand feeling deflated by all of this talk in the political discourse. I’ve been there for several weeks now. I woke up this morning and somehow was given the energy to write. I am thankful for the support of people like you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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  6. Ann Carr

    Men who speak of rape as if they know anything about its reality are like those who speak FOR God rather than about God. Huge difference – both associated with phenomenal egos and self-conceived pomposity!!

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    1. Marcia

      Thank you for reading, Ann Carr, and for your comment. Unfortunately many spheres of influence in American culture reward over active egos and pomposity. Also unfortunately, I think this dynamic has a lot to do with power and patriarchy, too. And the silencing of the voices of all victims and survivors (male and female) is enforced by the ways our systems function (or don’t) for people who don’t enjoy the power and privileges that so many of those with a public platform do.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  7. Kathleen

    Wow and THANK YOU and I can’t even begin to express how utterly confused I am that politicians are using this topic of rape to get their ideas and beliefs heard…. it is indeed a sad country if using these weapons becomes the norm. Sadness fills me and hope still carries me through the day.
    Kathleen

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    1. Marcia

      Dear Kathleen,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. Yes, I too hold those things in tension and tandem each day–sadness and hope. Sexual violence makes that seemingly conflicted reality a survival skill–and a way to find new vitality against the odds. Thank you for naming that.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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  8. Jodi

    Dear Maria,
    Mr. Mourdock’s statement may not have been worded correctly, but I do understand the spirit behind the words. The focus was not on the raped woman, but on the child who was concieved. I have a great deal of compassion for you, and for all women and children, and even men, who have been raped. Rape is a horrible thing, and it is a tragedy for the victim, both in the act itself, and then in the court system, as the defense attorney who defends the animal tries to paint the victim as the one at fault. It is horrible, and it should be changed! I am one who HATES injustice! i have so much compassion, esp. for children. And that compassion is ever so strong, even for the child who has now been concieved. How can killing the child right this horrible injustice? Why should this innocent baby lose his/her chance for life because of this horrible act? I DO understand how raising this child, a product of what has happened, and constant reminder of the nightmare, would be so very very difficult for this poor mom….more than she can bear. But what about adoption? Why not give the child a chance at life? So many good people wanting a baby, that cannot have their own. This child could be raised by a loving parents, and never ever know that they were concieved in rape. What is wrong with that? Something good come out of something horrible. What the devil meant for harm, GOD can turn around for GOOD. And, by the way, GOD Loves you, AND the baby. He has a wonderful plan, for BOTH of these lives. God Bless you Maria, may you be completely healed of all your pain. Much love to you sister.

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    1. Jodi

      Sorry I mistyped your name as Maria instead of Marcia.

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      1. Marcia

        No worries, Jodi, about my name. I answer to a lot of things!
        Peace,
        Marcia

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    2. Lianne

      Pregnancy is a precarious and possibly dangerous medical condition which should not be forced onto an unwilling body. There are so many emotional, moral, religious, financial, family, (etc.) considerations that go into deciding to bring a child into the world and every person brings a different set of considerations to their own situations. We should learn to trust people with their own bodily integrity and allow people the privacy they need to make difficult decisions about their bodies and reproductive choices. I’m sure every woman considers your argument, but there may be other overriding factors that go into her personal decision that are unique to her.

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      1. Marcia

        Dear Lianne,
        Thank you for reading and for your comment to Jodi’s concerns. You provide a vivid description of so much of the complexity of these issues. I agree that every person’s situation is unique and particular to her. And every person deals with tragedy in their own way. What I pray for is that people have all the support they need to truly make decisions that have integrity for them, deep inside themselves–these deep aquifers of embodied wisdom tend to take us in healing directions, even when there is tragedy, suffering, and even death. May we all find the grace, the compassion, and the courage to help form these kinds of spaces in our communities of faith, friendship, and family.
        Peace,
        Marcia

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    3. Marguerite

      Jodi, I’m not sure who you’re writing about since you are addressing a “Maria” that I don’t see on the boards. But your response is an example of why Marcia wrote the article she did. She’s not talking about your belief about what God does with tragedy and horror. She’s not talking about how your political position will bring about a happy pregnancy in cases of rape, which result in picture-perfect adopted children who never want to inquire about the real biological parents or how they came to be. She’s talking about the fact that unless you have been there, it’s your turn to be silent about this as a politicaal issue, and LISTEN to real life experiences of what this means. Finally, before Roe v. Wade there was plenty of evidence showing a law against abortion would not prevent raped women from trying to get one….legalizing it meant the women might have a chance to live too.

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      1. Marcia

        Dear Marguerite,
        Thank you for reading and for your comments in response to Jodi’s concerns. I agree that there is much more pain and ambiguity held within the reality of these issues than we have the space to honor in our political conversation. And, yes, the multiplied tragedy is that rape survivors without access to support and safe space will end up being victimized even more by limited options. Even with safe spaces, the shame of sexual violence still leads to these tragic losses among survivors. Thank you again for taking the time to read and to comment.
        Peace,
        Marcia

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    4. Marcia

      Dear Jodi,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I can tell your comments come from your heart and that you have deep feelings on many of the issues that this conversation brings up. I do not question God’s ability to take the wreckage, the garbage, the tragedy of human life and some how gently coax out redemptive threads, redemptive possibilities from it all. I am a living witness to that. I do however question the assumption that we can tell people how to grieve, how to find healing, how to live with trauma, or how to stay alive in profoundly distorted situations. Rape does not leave us with a lot of black and white moral absolutes. Unfortunately, the pain and the harm ripple through lives, communities, and generations. No matter how eloquently or not Mr. Mourdock articulated his views on abortion, you cannot extract a baby conceived in rape from the mother who carries that baby. They are entangled with one another for eternity no matter what happens: a terminated pregnancy, adoption, or walking through life as parent and child. I have written about many of these issues from a theological perspective in my book, Let the Bones Dance. I hope you will take a look. As a person of faith you would be interested in the conversation. And I would be interested to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your prayers, too, for my healing. I have learned that “complete healing” is not a real possibility when living with trauma. I rejoice, however, in the gifts of regeneration and redemption that I experience every day.
      Peace,
      Marcia

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    5. Sophia Jackson

      Dear Jodi,

      When I hear arguments like the one you propose, I understand that you are speaking those words out of love for the “unborn child”. But here’s what I don’t understand. Why is there more concern and compassion for the unborn human, than for the fully formed human standing in front of you in the shape of a raped woman? I will never understand why the Christian community is so obsessively concerned with pre-life forms, but so seemingly unconcerned with those life forms once they get here. I wish the Christian community would put in as much time protesting for food for the hungry, housing for the homeless, better education for the masses, community projects for the poor, etc, etc. There are 7 billion people already on the planet. Let’s show that we care about the ones being raped by making sure the “morning after pill” is available and affordable for any woman who needs it and let’s support those woman in the use of it so that they don’t have to be “re-raped” by politicians who suggest that those who use it are aborting a child.

      Sophia

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      1. Marcia

        Dear Sophia,
        Thank you for reading and for commenting, and for sharing your strong feelings on this and related issues. As a Christian myself and a pastor/theologian, I agree that sometimes Christians can “miss the mark.” We do so much of the time! At the same time, I live and work and worship among Christians too many to count who have dedicated their lives to issues of poverty, education, social justice, racism, and so much more. Those folks don’t get as much press, their sound bites aren’t as attractive to media, and it seems so easy for the larger culture to be left with a caricature of “the Christian community.” Christianity, like any faith tradition, is a diverse and even contradictory collection of believers who try to find our way in a world that is complicated. I couldn’t agree with you more that we all need to focus our gaze on addressing suffering in the world. And I pray that we can all get better at how we find ways to be in dialogue with one another about how we go about it all. Sometimes our biggest obstacles seem to be living with our differences and still finding ways to work together to create healing and life-giving ministries and communities. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. Blessings to you in the work that you do.
        Peace,
        Marcia

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        1. Sophia Jackson

          Yes, of course Christians do wonderful things in the world too. I grew up as one of those Christians who was “overly concerned about about abortion” and not as concerned about loving the people who were already here. 🙂 So that’s where my “strong feelings” come from. However, I didn’t mean for that to be my main point.

          My point, which someone else articulated a lot more clearly in this thread than I did, is that the woman, is already here. She already exists. There is disagreement about when the life of a person begins – is it at conception? when the heartbeat begins? when it looks like a child? when it can live outside the mother? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that the woman who was raped, is already alive and here, and ought to be treated with compassion. To me, to deny a raped woman the right to an abortion, is to care more for the microscopic, invisible-to-the-naked-eye “baby”, than the life size woman. Maybe abortion makes us choose between those lives and if so, I choose the woman who is already here.

          Thank you for your kind and thoughtful response. 🙂

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          1. liza

            Last month i recieved an email from a 26 year old girl. She wrote ” I wanted to meet the courageous and beautiful woman that gave me life. It has been a beautiful life. Thank you” For me, this was proof that the rape and the decision for adoption was not in vain. She never belonged to me…however, she did belong to life.

          2. Stacy

            Dear Liza, Your experience of carrying a child of rape to term is rare. I find the easy way with which you convey the experience of sharing the letter from your adopted child to be startling. I am more accustomed to the struggle with which my 40 year old friend who was raped at 13, still struggles with that trauma of 27 years ago.

            Here are some comments from Eve Ensler, a woman who has spent her whole life working with women who have been raped. She wrote this recently, after hearing Mr Akin’s casual comments about rape. “I am in Bukavu at the City of Joy to serve and support and work with hundreds, thousands of women who have been raped and violated and tortured from this ceaseless war for minerals fought on their bodies.” and “I have spent much time with mothers who have given birth to children who are the product of rape. I have watched how tortured they are wrestling with their hate and anger, trying not to project that onto their child.”

            This is a more normal kind of struggle from women who have given birth to children who are the product of rape. Feeling tortured… wrestling.. hate and anger. I do not often hear the kind of platitudes that you espouse, such as “she did belong to life.” If you feel you made the right decision for your life and your body after experiencing such a trauma, then I am so happy for you. Please understand though, that many women do not have your same experience.

          3. Marcia

            Dear Sophia, Liza, and Stacy,
            Thanks to all three of you for this important exchange. Each of you speak from valid experiences that lift up how very complicated these issues are. Where people want clear lines, there are only fragmented lives and constrained spaces. It is the reality of these constrained spaces that is denies when the politicized rhetoric tells us there should be “choices” and/or “life.” As I mentioned in response to another comment, the whole concept of “choice” is exploded by sexual trauma. Not just one life is affected by that trauma, but many, many lives–the harm ripples out and seeps into the lives of family, friends, co-workers, and even the lives yet to be or never to be who are tangled up in these relationships. I believe in my bones that our society’s impasse around an issue like abortion is that it is almost impossible to articulate all of these deep, cellular ways that we are connected with each other and with the world with the current language we employ to try and stake our claims. I find myself somewhere outside of the either/or that many people try to overlay on definitions of life and on the value of choice. For me the contours of life are so very intricate and mysterious, and so very unique and particular to each and every one of us. I pray that we can find more generous spaces for the tragic ways that life and death weave their way through everything we do–not just around violence, pregnancy, etc. but around simply what it means to be human and to need a community who sees, understands, and honors who we each are and how we each struggle to live into the challenges that we encounter in this world.
            I read in each of your words that you are working to live and speak with integrity. And the great thing is that you are reaching out and doing that in a forum where everyone doesn’t think the same way you do. I most appreciate that all three of you honor each other’s experiences and find the courage to share you own. May we all be so humble and so bold. Thank you!
            Peace,
            Marcia

    6. Jill

      Some believe in abortion only in the case of rape or incest.

      I knew a young woman who was brutally raped in a dark alley. She didn’t believe in abortion and carried the child of this crazed man in order to give it up for adoption. She went away from most of her family and friends, hiding her pregnancy, to have the child. It shocked me when she talked about how she hated the child inside her.

      Of course, her finance supported her in her decision. (He was an older man who had a vasectomy before she knew him.) Once she saw her baby, she fell in love with it. They kept that baby because it was “her” baby.

      Maybe that politician knew someone like that.

      Reply
      1. Stacy

        Hi Jill.
        That is an incredible story! And I so happy for the young woman that she was able to regain some love and control in her life through her decision to keep “her” baby. Maybe the politician did know someone like that. But the politician should not use an individual example of one person’s experience to justify the idea that ALL women must bear a child conceived in rape.

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        1. Marcia

          Dear Stacy,
          Thank you for sharing your response to Jill. I hope you will read my response above, too. You have articulated a very important fact about the nature of human existence–uniqueness and particularity are not reducible to one normative experience. That is true of human life in general, sexual trauma simply shows us that in clear relief. Thank you, again, for adding your voice to the conversation.
          Peace,
          Marcia

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      2. Marcia

        Dear Jill,
        Thank you for reading and for sharing the story you know. I agree that new life and new possibilities can fold out of tragedy. No matter what, God works that way–finding ways to take the loss, the pain, the unspeakable things of human life and stitch healing threads through them. The danger, I believe, is when we mistake those healing threads for a reason to deny or dismiss the ways God can do that when and if things had gone a very different way. I honor the decision the young woman who you know made. And I rejoice at the new life that folded out the shards and fragments of it for her. I pray that she has a strong circle of support who will give her space to process all the ambiguity of motherhood in general, which is only more undeniable in situations where a child was conceived in violence. And I rejoice when God also takes the shards and fragments of the lives of others whose experiences with sexual violence unfold in different ways (a terminated or lost pregnancy, infertility, miscarriages later in life, etc) and coaxes them, too, into new connections, new invitations to healing and to vitality. That is the way God works if you ask me–no matter what or how particular lives take shape.
        Who and what politicians know when it comes to sexual violence does not begin to articulate the power and the uniqueness of the actual lives of survivors. I meet many, many survivors–each with her or his own unique story, each story with its own grief and its own glimmers of redemption. If only we could acknowledge and address sexual violence and the snarl of issues it brings with it from that starting place. I think our public discourse and policies would have a different quality to them around these issues and not be surrounded by so much tension and polarization.
        Thank you, again, Jill, for being a part of this conversation.
        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply
  9. Dee

    I was just saying last night I cannot even begin to get my thoughts together on this latest comment. You nailed it. You spoke what was on my mind that I could not figure out how to say. These comments take me to such a horrible and painful place. I hope the message gets out – I am sharing it.

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    1. Marcia

      Dear Dee,
      Thank you for your affirmation. It is a great gift to me. And thank you for sharing and for adding your voice to mine. Blessings to you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

  10. Your heart comes through loud and clear. You speak for many who do not have the courage, the healing, or the words. Thank you.

    With admiration…
    Deb

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Deb. I appreciate your affirmation and gratitude. Words, indeed, are impossible so much of the time. What a gift to be heard when we risk trying.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  11. Jodi

    Marguerite,
    my only hope in writing this, is that victims of rape think twice before aborting their baby, that’s all. There are those alive today, who were products of rape, and their mom’s gave them life. I guess you could say that maybe these would have the right to speak?

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    1. Jodi

      How about, if I am the sister to such a one. Would that give me the right to speak? That my brother would not be here today, if our mom had chosen to abort him? There IS another PERSON in this equazion….that’s all I am saying.

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      1. Lianne

        Dear Jodi,

        That is a point of view. Another equally valid point of view on both moral and religious grounds is that there is a potential human being going through the process of becoming a human being. Whoever this potential human being can become in life is a hypothetical. However, the mother is a real human being in the now. In balancing the needs of the mother and the potential child, when they come in conflict, the mother’s needs weigh more because she is a real human being, integrated into her world and the fetus is a hypothetical/potential human with no consciousness or awareness of self yet. When the line is crossed from potential into real is a debated point and not for one person or group to decide for everyone else. Again, no one goes through these decisions lightly, and we should trust those immediately involved in their own situations to make the decision that is unique and right for them. It is no one else’s business and we must respect the right to privacy.

        Reply
    2. Marcia

      Dear Jodi and Lianne,
      I appreciate this exchange and the integrity of each of your perspectives. In so many ways this is a both/and issue. Tragedy of any sort cannot be tidied up by a full proof system of response and resolution. The ambiguous, painful, and promising lives that fold out of sexual trauma do, indeed, need space to come into their own. As I mentioned above in response to another comment, there is no way to extract mother from child. No matter what happens, they are forever entangled, forever connected. May we hold all people ravaged by violence gently in the light.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
    3. Frannie

      Maria, you are so articulate and gentle in your kindness. I am so over politicians and people like Joni feeling it is ok to foist their opinions and beliefs on the rest of us. Women who have suffered the tragedy of rape do not need to again be victimized by these people over decisions made concerning their body and medical choices. I too love children but her excuse for the additional punishment is not enough to justify the intrusion. If you do not like abortion then do not have one. Leave others to makers the best decision for their circumstances. How about politicians put their energies toward the needy children already here. Maria much love and peace to you and those you speak for.

      Reply
      1. Marcia

        Dear Frannie,
        Thank you for reading and for commenting. I can “hear” the frustration in your words. Issues like sexual violence, abortion, sexuality, etc. bring up so many deep feelings in each of us and in our collective understandings/anxieties/hopes and dreams. I think you are on to something when you point us toward giving people space to sort out their complicated road to healing in the way they need to. Grief and trauma take up home place in each of us with utter uniqueness and so there cannot be a one size fits all strategy for addressing them. And most importantly, the problems and pain cannot be erased by any decision a woman makes in the wake of the new reality she carries with her. Our lives are never the same. My prayer is that all who suffer from trauma have the support and love they need to find the life-giving threads that stitch their way through it all. Thank you again, Frannie, for your thoughts and sharing your hopes for love and peace with me.
        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply
  12. Linda Miller

    Thank you, Marcia. I confess that my ire is so great over the insult that these political comments cast on all women that, even though I have not experienced the horror of sexual assault, I respond with rage on behalf of my sisters who have. Informed by other personal violations that have left me powerless, I have spoken out as though I was personally offended. You have helped me understand that in speaking on your behalf, especially since I cannot fully know what you have experienced, I may be silencing you. Not at all what I would ever want to do.

    Your words are powerful. Your voice is essential. A friend posted the link to your blog on FB, and I will share it as well.

    Blessings!
    Linda

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Linda,
      Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for sharing. And thank you for being an ally and for speaking from your own experience of violation. There is room for a chorus when it comes to these issues. And I deeply believe that our intentionality is of upmost importance. We share a hope for healing, no doubt.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  13. Tom Bartlett-Svehla

    Marcia: You are one of the most intelligent and compassionate people I know. Thank you for sharing what is obviously an extremely difficult event in your life so that others may learn. I share your hope that politicians, and other people too, will read and understand your story, and will also listen to and understand others who are the victims of rape and sexual assault. Blessings to you, John, and the kids. Tom

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Tom,
      Thank you for your affirmations. It is a blessing to hear from you and I know you are deeply committed to learning and growing on this and so many other issues important to our world today. Blessings to you and to Dorothy.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  14. Kathy Beach-Verhey

    Marcia,
    Thanks for sharing a part of your story in order to help try and change and reshape our common story and how we talk about it. We have so much to learn as a society about rape and how we respond to it. I hope many, many folks read what you have written. Your voice is strong, clear, and powerful. Thank you!!
    Kathy

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Kathy,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Your affirmations mean a great deal to me. Yes, we all have a lot to learn and hopefully a lot of room to grow. God is so very generous when it comes to the redemptive/healing opportunities that can fold out life’s tragedies. Thank you again for adding your voice to this conversation.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  15. Robin Cunningham

    Marcia, my heart goes out to you and all rape survivors, and especially those that don’t. Survive. I fear for all women, especially my young daughters. What advice would you give them as they edge toward an independent life?

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Robin,
      Thank you for your comment and for your support and affirmation. It is so hard not to live fearfully when it comes to our children and their vulnerability in this world where violence is so prevalent. Each day I pray that I can do my part to give both my son and my daughter enough love that they have space to know and love themselves. And each day I pray that I can pay attention and never ignore any signs of trouble. I think one of the most important things you can do is to keep the lines of communication open and the interrogation and judgement quotients low. If they have a place where they know they can deliver bad news and be loved and supported through it then you’ve accomplished something that could be life-saving.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  16. lynne castle

    God bless you, Molly, and all the women who have to deal with the aftermath of rape in a basically non-supporting society–I can only imagine how difficult this was to write; this essay should touch many people’s lives and I pray it does. I also pray that everyone (but especially those running for political office) will think carefully before speaking publically on issues about which they are uninformed. Grace and peace and prayers…

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Lynne,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I, too, pray that somehow by bringing these conversations out of the shadows into the light the movement and potency of healing can gain steam and find its way into more lives and communities.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

  17. Dear Marcia, Thank you for having the courage to write your story. I too am tired of MY body, and my needs, being batted about like a hockey puck with no meaning or feeling. We need more people with your dignity and grace. Bren, forever RedsMom

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Bren/RedsMom,
      Thank you for reading and for your affirmations. You are correct that is does start to feel like our bodies are a part of a game, batted around and dismissed in the process. It is a strange discourse isn’t it, when women’s bodies are both the focal point and invisible simultaneously. May we all find more generous spaces and modes of operation for the important conversations we do need to have around how all bodies can live most robustly.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  18. Carol Bercos

    Thank you so much for the articulation, clarity and bravery with which this was written. I pray that it reaches some of those who really need to read this powerful message.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Carol, for reading and for your affirmation. Both mean a lot to me. Thank you for being a part of amplifying the conversation. Blessings to you and yours!
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  19. K

    Marcia, I, too am a survivor. Your points are beautiful and healing. But perhaps we assume incorrectly that the politicians, men, speaking were never victims. If there is a culture of silence for women, moreso for children (as you and I were), and even triply for boys. Perhaps some of these men want to believe that God would do what He could to protect victims. I pray for them, for us, and all the perpetrators.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear K,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. And I also appreciate your wisdom and generosity and prayer. You are right, the entrenched silences are the most tenacious the younger the child is and boys are the least likely to report childhood sexual abuse. And you are correct, there are silent victims all around us. I don’t know what lies behind the comments of the politicians who have been using rape in their rhetoric of late. There may well be pain, there may well be deep anxieties about their own sexuality or sexual history. They are human like the rest of us so it would not come as a surprise if any of that were true. And so much of what I pray conversations like this can help us do is to not fall into the easy patterns of moral absolutes and either/or thinking. As human beings we are all both/and in so, so many ways. We are broken and we are strong, we are afraid and we are courageous, we are the harmed and the ones who harm. Thank you again for your generous words.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  20. Clea

    Thank you for writing this. I was raped in college, got pregnant as a result of that rape, and had an abortion, which I do NOT regret. For many, many years (I am now 51), I told myself I wasn’t raped because I not only knew my attacker, but I had chosen to drink with him. (I had had a loud fight with my boyfriend – with whom I only practiced safe sex – and my dorm neighbor had overheard it and came over with a pitcher of a strong mixed drink.) I woke up while he was raping me and pushed him off, but clearly it was too late. I never prosecuted him. I blamed myself for being so stupid. I am only glad I had enough sense to end that pregnancy, and I thank you now for putting the truth out there.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Clea,
      Thank you for reading and for sharing some of your story here. I am sorry. And I grieve along with you the loss of joy, the years of guilt and self-doubt, and all the layers of loss that come along with the experiences you describe. Your strength comes through in your words. It can be a struggle every day to tell ourselves the truth, much less tell the world the truth. I am holding you in prayer, Clea, for generous spaces as you continue along your journey. I know “coming to terms” with rape and trauma is not a once and for all task we can check off our lists. Trauma takes us back through it all when we least expect it. I pray that with each return you are able to gain new strength, clarity, and appreciation for your own courage in staying connected to life and truth and possibility. Thank you again for adding your voice to mine.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Wesley, for being a part of this conversation.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  21. Jean Caudill

    Marcia,
    Thank you for your well thought out letter. I hope it helps change the highly distorted messages politicians are putting out there with their ridiculous comments. I am currently serving as a chaplain in a nursing home. The pain of rape permeates so deeply that the shame and and heartache is carried by women until the day they die, decades later. Of all the hurts life dishes out, this is one of the most painful and tears at their self esteem in ways that only other victims can understand. Yes, women are strong and can overcome such trauma, but when people exploit the trauma of rape to make a political point they rub salt in the wounds of those who lived through it and those who lost loved ones who did not survive.

    Blessings as you speak the light of truth into the darkness,

    Chaplain Jean

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Chaplain Jean,
      Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for sharing some of the wisdom and compassion you have gained in your important ministry. Your descriptions are vivid and right on. I am thankful that the women you serve in your chaplaincy are accompanied in this final phase of their lives by a source of compassion and acknowledgement. You are giving them a great, great gift. I pray for strength for you and that you have all the support and love you need to support and love them. Blessings in your ministry, Jean.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  22. Lynn

    Thank you for your words Marcia. I pray they find their way into the minds of those who can be enlightened, into the hearts of those whose lives have been wounded by your common experirences and into a hope for a better day.

    I will share your post with others. Bless you.
    Lynn

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Lynn,
      Thank you for reading and for your lovely prayer. May it be so. Blessings to you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  23. Jeannie

    Marcia –

    You’ve written a very articulate article about very difficult subjects. I wish I could have done that. I will share this with others.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Jeannie, for reading and for your affirming comment. I am glad you feel moved to share. Blessings to you, too, as you find your own ways to give voice to truth.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  24. Samantha

    Marcia–
    Your piece is wonderful, and you speak for me as a woman although I am not a rape survivor. I am especially moved by your responses to nearly every comment. Please know that I stand with you, and applaud you for breaking this stifling silence.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Samantha,
      Thank you for reading, commenting, and participating in this conversation. I am thankful for each person’s willingness to speak. We are all doing our part to “break the stifling silence.” Thank you again for adding your voice here.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  25. Cynthia Astle

    Marcia, your story is my story as well. What you describe is absolutely accurate, including keeping my “shame” secret for more than 30 years until I couldn’t stand it any more. I am now two years from “coming out” about the violent sexual assault by a man in authority over me. Even after two years of therapy and soul-searching, I am only now able to acknowledge my past trauma openly to others. What you describe in your letter to politicians is my plea as well: Stop victimizing us again by speaking rashly and cavalierly about something about which you clearly know nothing. It has taken me all this time to see myself as a survivor, not a victim, and I won’t go back again to being a victim so that some man can get elected to a political office.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Cynthia,
      Thank you for your comments. I am sending you all the light and affirmation I can muster as you continue your journey of healing and truth telling. May you find all the strength and support you need, all the space for grief to flow and all the generosity for healing to take hold in the deepest places within you. I hope you will keep in touch as you continue your work. It is a circuitous journey, but one that brings surprising opportunities and startling regeneration along the way. I also hope you will check out my book, Let the Bones Dance, and some other writing on my blog that I have done about sexual violence and the healing journey I share with you. Most of all I hope you feel yourself discover a new kind of vitality. You are not alone, sister, and blessings in your continued work.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  26. Dorothy Probst

    Marcia,

    Thanks so much for your work on this life defining topic. I am shocked to hear politicians and leaders talk of rape and God’s will and how women invited their attackers to abuse them. I know several women who have been raped, and they have lived through what you eloquently describe. God bless you. Dot

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Dot,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I am thankful to know that you are a supportive friend and ally to those you know and love who live with sexual trauma. Blessings in your capacity to be compassionate and to be present.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

  27. Dear Marcia, you write with astounding eloquence of the most unbearable pain. Thank you! I do not, and will never understand how the police, justice system, and politicians can use the abused and vulnerable for their own selfish ends. It’s utter insanity. Truth speaks with clarity, and no one speaks it better than an empowered ‘victim’ (We’re not).

    For all our education, wealth and techology (and I’m a Brit), little has changed when it comes to the treatment of women. Of course, men get raped too 🙁 We need to keep bombarding Congress/senators with our views and stories. Keep speaking about it, so that others can lift their shame and talk about it too.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Annette,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. Part of the tragedy of sexual violence is in the stealth ways our systems, habits, and norms authorize it and mask it at the same time. There are causes and conditions that help give rise to the ways these patterns thrive and remain tenacious. I pray that we can all have to courage to look at some of these roots and be able to dig them up and look at them without fear. You are right, the more we speak, the closer we get to doing that kind of work together.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

  28. Marcia,
    Your courageous and honest letter stopped me in my tracks. I was all ready to post all kinds of vitriol against Mourdock et al. until I read this. Was I too merely trying to score points? I hope not, and yet…
    Your story is so much more important. Now I will share it instead.

    Peace be with you.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Dave,
      Thank you for reading and for sharing your reactions. I am thankful for the way you have given yourself to this conversation and for your willingness to hear voices of people touched by these issues. Thank you for being an ally, thank you for being open to transformation. You make the world a better place!
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Sara. I appreciate your affirmation.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Jessica, for reading, for commenting, and just for adding your voice to the growing chorus. Bless you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  29. Beth Royalty

    Dear Marcia:
    Bless you and thank you. I am the mother of a daughter who was raped when she was thirteen, yet did not tell anyone until she was 20. She is 27 and still trying to work through the guilt, the pain, the whole trauma. As her mother, I am on that same journey of guilt, but also rage against the boy, the school, the whole awful thing. I crave our political system to be able to do the work of stopping rape, dealing with the rapist, and working on all that in our society and world that has, for eons, allowed this violence to occur. The almost casual way in which this subject, women’s health, and the frankly terrible theology that some politicians claim around these subjects make me sick to my stomach, and feel a little hopeless about our political and social future.
    I don’t want to hear anyone talking about rape unless they are doing one of three things: telling their own story of it, talking about how to prevent it, or talking about how to mete out some real and lasting consequences for the rapist.
    Thank you for your courage, your good theology, and your good sense.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Beth,
      Thank you for reading and for sharing some of your story with me. I am holding you in the light–the pain of your child being violated and so deeply harmed is, no doubt, unbearable much of the time. You are profoundly tangled up in it all. You give her a great gift by being present, by feeling it alongside her. I yearn along with you for a pathway of deep healing for the affliction of violence in our society. Your support and love of your daughter certainly adds to our collective healing. Thank you for standing with her and for loving her like you do.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  30. Linda

    Dear Marcia,
    Thank you for the thoughtful and soulful response. This political proceding that has grown into a crazy and thoughtless spewing of words has harmed many, and the strength of your voice is needed.

    It is refreshing to read all the comments because usually in these things at some point they degenerate into name calling and other nastiness. So with great hope I take note of your earliest response to one “who did not identify themselves.” It is such a good example of a compassionate and sensible way of responding in the face of criticism. I’d like to think that people recognized the boundary you set for civil and thoughtful dialogue.

    Grace and peace, Linda

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Linda,
      I am glad you added your voice to this conversation. It is a blessing to connect in all the ways we all are–we are sharing our grief, our anger, our yearning for change, our stories, and our compassion. Great, great gifts to be sure. I can’t tell you what a salve it is to be surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses–it is a blessed contrast to the secret shame and isolation I and so many have known.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  31. Anonymous

    Dear Marcia,
    Thank you so much for writing this letter. It is an absolutely beautiful and true thing that many people needed to hear. 🙂
    Peace and God’s will

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Anonymous,
      Thank you for writing your comments and for taking the time to read and affirm. It means a great deal to me to have you share peace and God’s blessing with me. Blessings to you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  32. Kathryn

    Marcia,
    Thank you so much for this piece. As a rape survivor and someone who is entering the ministry I am so grateful for your strength and your openness. Your description of how it feels to live with “that part of who I am” is spot on. It remains an everyday challenge for me as well. I also have lived through “the harsh and liberating sound of hearing yourself day, ‘I was raped.'” It took a long time for me to get there and still remains a secret to many of those around me. But almost worse than the trauma of being raped was the trauma of going to trial. My attacker was charged with “sexual misconduct” because they did not have enough evidence to charge him with rape. And although the judge called me up after the trial to tell me that she believed my story, he was found “not guilty” but a jury of his peers. That day, 3 years and 3 days ago I lost faith in the criminal justice system. Rape victims are victimized again in the criminal justice system because we are put on trial… our past actions, our sex lives, our traumatized memory… we are the ones on trial. We do not get the benefit of “presumption of innocence.”
    I pray that as we move forward the discourse about rape becomes about real justice issues. I pray that we stop using rape as a political weapon that only seems to matter when it comes to abortion. I pray that one day we will actually fix the system and feel confident sending our brothers and sisters into the courtroom to face their attacker. This is a much bigger issue than abortion for rape survivors. This is about how we as a nation and a culture view women and women’s bodies, how we educate people about rape and what rape survivors go through, and the need to constantly reaffirm in our culture that “no means no” all the time.
    Thank you thank you thank you for your incredibly elegant words and I pray that those that have ears to hear will hear, understand, and join the movement for change.
    Peace,
    Kathryn

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Kathryn,
      Thank you for reading and for sharing some of your story. My heart is heavy. Words really cannot begin to express the redoubled tragedy of telling the truth of sexual trauma in a court of law and not being believed. Insult to injury is too trite a label for it. Yes, this is a bigger, deeper issue. And we can dig and chip and pray and weep and keep holding each other up as we hold on, as we stay connected to something better, something life-giving, something true. I really hope you will take a look at my book, Let the Bones Dance. My chapter on rape deals with so many of the issues you are raising from a theological perspective. Also I suggest some ways churches can embody compassion in the face of trauma in a paradigm shift away from atonement frameworks toward more incarnational embodied practice. I would love to hear your thoughts on the book. Blessings to you, Kathryn, as you enter the ministry. You will no doubt be a source of compassion and a prophetic voice all at once. May you have all the support and love you need to find threads of healing for you in the midst of your ministry, too.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  33. Sarah O'Leary

    Thank you so very, very much for this. A friend shared it through facebook. I contribute to the Huffington Post. This would be such a wonderful piece for it. Maybe you already submit to them, I don’t know. If not, please consider it. blogteam@huffingtonpost.com. More people need to read this. Thanks for your courage.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Sarah,
      Thank you for reading and for your suggestion. I appreciate your affirmations very, very much. I will see if they respond to my email.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  34. Linny O'Hara

    Dear Marcia,

    GOD bless you! And thank you so much for your courage, your powerful words, and your beautiful faith.

    I was attacked 20 years ago, in broad daylight, in a shopping mall parking lot. I only spoke about it to 3 people: my husband, the police officer who came to the store (yes, a man), and my next door neighbor who found me, week later, crouched down in my backyard shivering and sobbing in the middle of August. It was my first time outside the house since the attack, and I was suddenly so terrified, I couldn’t move. All I could do was sink to the ground and call out for GOD.

    I can’t remember what famous person said, “The only way evil can prosper is if good people stand by and do nothing.” but I just didn’t have it in me to talk about it all. Bless you, bless you, bless you, Marcia, for having the courage, for fighting the good fight. Surely GOD will say to you on the day you pass from this world, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in and rest.”

    I haven’t read your book, yet, but I certainly will. The title alone ministers to me.

    And thank you for your most recent post about politicians. Why is it that the people who know the least about….. fill in the blank…. ANYTHING… always seem to be the ones with the loudest voices? Incredible; and shameful. I only hope their wives and daughters give them all a good shake and say, “Stop it!” or if ya want to say something, get the facts.

    Oh well, anyway, I just wanted to say thank you.

    I don’t know why but the tears are rolling down and my hand is shaking. I’m almost too afraid to hit the post button. Why? After all these years. And GOD has been so very good to me. But I”m gonna do it. I’m going to hit the post button. Again, bless you.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Linny,
      Thank you for the gift you give me in your words, in your honesty, in your courage and your survival. May God circle you with all the grace and peace you need to take each step that comes in your healing work. I have learned that it is a lifetime’s work–a painful and startling practice of learning how to simply be present to myself and to God. Those tears that come unbidden, only add to the river so many of us shed when we least expect it, when we don’t want it, when we can’t stop it. I pray that you can see them flowing into a deep aquifer that quenches the ground we all stand on making it more fertile for truth, for transformation. I would be honored if you read my book. I would love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, Linny, thank you for pushing the post button. You can’t know how much you have blessed me by taking that step. Blessings to you.
      And may the peace that passes understanding be and abide with you always,
      Marcia

      Reply
  35. Cathy Gutierrez

    Marcia,
    I just read this, thank you I am 64years old. You just wrote my story. It was 48 years ago. And it still hurts when things are triggered. Thank you, Cathy.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Cathy,
      Thank you for reading and for sharing some of your story. The pain can be so potent even after so many years–like it is held in trust in our bones, in our cells. I pray that in those times of hurt, of re-membering, that you are surrounded by generous spaces for grief to flow and for new glimpses of healing to take hold. Our bodies need so much more than time to do the work of healing–we need support, we need compassion, we need trust and safe space. I pray all those things for you, Cathy. Thank you for adding your voice and your story to this conversation. Blessings to you always.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  36. Dianna

    Marcia,
    Although I have never been raped, I have had a chance to talk with victims/survivors while I volunteered at a Rape Crisis Center. My heart is filled with compassion for all the women and men who have endured this horrible act and must live with it for the rest of their lives. While I understand your perspective and your desire for politicians to not use this issue for political gain, I don’t believe that is entirely possible. While we need to listen to survivors, such as yourself, we also need to think about future victims and the options that will be available to them. As a resident of Indiana, I was in disbelief with Murdock’s statements and feel that I have a right to know his views before voting.The last thing I want to do is vote someone into office that may have the power to take away my choice and my children’s choice, should they be raped…all due to his religious beliefs on conception…which i don’t agree with. Once again, my heart goes out to you and others that have been raped. While i think it’s important to hear the victims, it’s also important that we think about future victims and make sure that politicians don’t take away the choices that you had.

    Dianna

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Dianna,
      Thank you for reading, for commenting, and for being an ally for people in crisis. It sounds like you have offered a listening ear to women who have trauma, and that is a life-saving act. Since you have been there in the trenches with survivors you know what a murky word “choice” becomes when a person lives with trauma. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Rape Trauma Syndrome, and also the ever growing learnings of Trauma Theory tell us that trauma elides normal systems of memory, trauma distorts and contorts our capacity to even know ourselves and to be conscious of the full force of what happened to us. Trauma takes up homeplace deep within us rendering the whole dynamic of “choice” as a conscious act with robust awareness and agency a near impossible muscle to exercise for survivors sometimes. Shame and blame, guilt and secrecy partner with fear, hyper vigilance, and depression to create very small, constrained spaces. And most of the time survivors grope in the dark for “what to do.” I know you have witnessed these dynamics first hand if you have worked in the Rape Crisis Center. Those patterns of thinking and those deeply embodied/many times unconscious habits stay with us forever even when we do “the work” to heal, to grow, the reconnect.
      Yes, knowing someone’s political stance is important so that we can be informed voters. I am inviting politicians to allow rape to occupy some unique territory for them–for rape to be something they engage with some awareness of the power and harmful capacity of their rhetoric even as they expose themselves to the realities of rape. If you read through the comments of the survivors who have posted here you will hear reverberations of what I am saying. We are retraumatized when we are silenced, when we are erased, when we are used for someone else’s purposes. We are silenced when the world doesn’t seem to see that we are holding on for dear life already. I do not think being an informed voter, an honest candidate, and a compassionate culture are mutually exclusive. For my eight year old daughter’s sake I pray that that is true.
      Thank you again for your work and for being a part of this conversation.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  37. Jane o.

    Dear Marcia,
    You are someone I love and admire. Your articulate words on this topic go down with all the other incredibly wise, touching,important things I have heard you say or write. I wish your letter was on the front page of every newspaper. I wish this country would wake up & shape up. I am saddened that the political process has apparently brought out the worst in the American psyche. I am glad that you exist in this world and that you speak as you do. Love to you and your family- Jane

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Jane,
      The love and admiration goes both ways! I am glad you exist and teach us all songs to sing. So many gifts flow from the songs of lament and redemption that we learn by heart. Love to you, your family, and the wonderful community that I still miss up your way!
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

  38. Marcia,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. And I pray that you will feel God’s presence close to you as you continue to heal and to reach out to others.

    Rayni

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Rayni,
      Thank you for your prayers. God’s Spirit is generous and so very present. I wouldn’t be here without it. May you, too, feel surrounded by and grounded in the same powerful love.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  39. Sophia Jackson

    The history of birth control in this country is fascinating. Less than 100 years ago, it was a crime to use (any form of) birth control, and it was unspeakable to mention it. Clinics that tried to fit women for diaphragms were raided by police and organizers were jailed. Margaret Sanger, IMHO, is a saint for what she endured for women and their right to control their own biological destiny.

    Back then, the argument was religious too. God had created women’s bodies to bear children, and to prevent conception, was a sin against God. The argument today is the same. Any and every conception is a gift from God – even brought about by rape.

    http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=303109.xml

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Sophia,
      Thank you for sharing this important information and for sticking with this conversation. It means a lot to me that you are being so responsive and present in it all. Yes, the ways women’s bodies have borne the burden of the politics and power abuses of the world is heartbreaking. And there are still many ways women’s bodies are not given space to really be what and who we are in all our complexity, in all our unique power. From fashion to medical training to theological constructions to childcare to economic opportunities women are still often not “really real” in the way society creates and generates systems, mentalities, and practices. We can find similar patterns and harm in the way race continues to function in our country. Both are about power and privilege and neither will substantively change until we have interrogated just those things: power and privilege.
      Thank you again, Sophia. Blessings to you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  40. Dan

    First let me acknowledge the fact that you have endured a immeasurable wrong. I don’t claim to have any insight into your situation except what can be gleaned by a relatively self-aware male. I’m not trying to dismiss you or your experience in any way – but while I have sympathy, I am and always will be an advocate for the things that I see as important – based on my understanding and life experiences. This is my duty as an acting person and to do any differently would be false. That also goes for those you criticize as well. Are you asking others to cease to advocate for deeply-held, well-thought out positions or to advocate for them less passionately for the sake of those who may misread or mishear our positions? From what I read, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Are we to feign empathy when our burdens in life has been different? Maybe. But to ask others to acknowledge every potential contravening evil every time we advocate for a potentially controversial position is an unrealistic muzzle to put on people and requires a stifling uniformity that our current society seems to be ever pushing us toward. I think it’s a mistake to think that any person who is experiencing psychological anguish will only find relief if the world accommodates their pain. I liken this to the amputee who wishes people would stop staring at his stump only to move to another culture that avoids looking at the stump. The best solution is for everyone to do their best to move past the stump even though the amputee himself will die with a stump and nothing will change that.

    Should we work toward creating a world where such evil as you have written is no more? Without a doubt. Will we agree on how that is to happen? not likely. It is my belief that such a world is nearer when every human life is respected. To me this is elementary but I don’t expect consensus on this point. I do wish there was the level of unanimity on the “life” issue as there is regarding the immorality of rape. And it my wish that this unanimity provides at least some comfort for you.

    Can we all be kinder? Of course. I know my words lack a certain gentleness that many may criticize – but please know that my clumsiness should not be interpreted as a lack of charity for you or your readers. I think the best I can do is based on the words of a very wise priest I know. He said, “Be kind to everyone you meet because everyone you meet is engaged in a great battle.”

    Reply
    1. Sophia Jackson

      HI Dan,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You absolutely should speak up for the things that you see as important, but as you do so, please keep in mind that the issue of “life” is one that is strangely complex. It’s not a black and white issue because a child’s life begins in and as part of another person’s life. As Marcia says in one of her beautiful responses, there is no getting around the fact that mother and child are intertwined.

      So when politicians “stand up for what they believe in”, and that belief involves raped women being forced to carry children to term, what they are doing is asking another person to bear the burden of “what they believe” inside their own bodies. I don’t think it has anything to do with asking people to “stop talking”. I think it has to do with considering the ramifications of what your laws are asking of other people’s lives and bodies. I hope that every politician who thinks that raped women should carry those babies to term will keep talking. That way we know who to vote out of office…. 🙂

      Curiously, politicians who have first hand experiences with controversial issues, tend to side with empathy for those people who they know and love. Dick Cheney, for instance, never supported the ban on gay marriage because his daughter is gay. And Trent Lott, when his MS home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, was suddenly on the senate floor demanding that insurance companies pay their claims. He didn’t seem to care so much about insurance claims for people who had lost their homes until he lost his own. So do we need to “feign empathy” for others? No. We need to feel it for real. Because it’s only then, that we can begin to show true respect for “life”.
      Peace.

      Reply
      1. Marcia

        Thank you again, Sophia, for your presence in this conversation. “Being there” in an experience is the first step in practicing compassion to be sure.
        Peace,
        Marcia

        Reply
      2. Dan

        Sophia,

        Prior to 1973 we as a nation erred on the side of protecting innocent life. I’m quite certain that I would have been exterminated like an invasive bug had I been conceived after that pivotal date. To call it “complex” does not take into account my experience – in fact is says that my very existence is determined by sophisticated thinking people like yourselves. I see you as the enemy to my existence but the true and eternal Truth tells me to love my enemies so I find a way to forgive your murderous ignorance.

        I await your response.

        I wish you love, truth and beauty,

        Dan

        Reply
        1. Stacy

          HI Dan,
          My calling life “complex” was an effort to show sympathy to both raped woman – and unborn child. I can see that it didn’t come across that way to you.

          It doesn’t feel like you wish me love, truth and beauty, even though those are the words you typed. When you name me as your enemy, and call my opinion “murderous ignorance”, and set yourself as higher than me by “forgiving me”, I have a hard time hearing the love that you are sending to me.

          Reply
          1. Dan

            Hi Stacy (Sophia),

            I don’t see the moral equivalence between the mother’s position of anguish and the child’s position of being dead.

            I can hate your position and desire the best for you. It seems to me that you prefer to sound nice and compassionate while allowing me and others to die. I’d prefer to be labeled a jerk.

            True peace,

            Dan

        2. Marcia

          Dear Dan, Sophia, and Stacy,
          I was traveling all day yesterday and unable to be as responsive as I would have liked to your conversation. I feel the tension as I know you all do, too. It is real and it is painful. As we each move forward in our various contexts around these issues, my prayer is that our mode of discourse will be both honest about our own perspective and awake to the limitations of each of our perspectives. We need each other, we really do, in order to continue to navigate these issues that continue to rupture relationships and wound countless lives.
          To you, Dan, I wonder what it would take for you to make space for the fact that complexity is also the nature of goodness. God created a complex and intricate world. Evil’s existence in the world is a privation of that complexity and seeks to trivilialize God’s amazing and creative intricacy. When we want to root out evil and find ways to lessen its power in our lives, it seems to be it starts by trusting God’s unique power to be present and potent in the complexity of the world God created. So, my prayer for you is about trusting that God-given, beautiful complexity that embraces and courses through us all. And Sophia and Stacy, I am praying that you can find the generous, peaceful space you need to stay connected to this conversation even when it feels like it’s become insulting. The space to not take Dan’s accusations personally provides room for the conversation to continue. Right now, it seems like it’s hit a wall where it has become either/or and personal. These issues deeply affect us and are so much bigger than us. I am glad you are all present and participatory and I hope these exchanges can keep finding their way into some new, life-giving territory. You all three give us a gift if you can take a deep breath and keep talking.
          Thank you for taking the risks and for speaking from your hearts.
          Peace,
          Marcia

          Reply
          1. Dan

            Marcia,

            With all due respect, you have made assumptions that are not there. I did not say that goodness isn’t complex. But I will say that goodness does not require complex and nuanced thinking from us. If that were the case, the simple-minded or of heart could not be good.

            I’m concerned that we live in a world that accommodates evil. As a man in our sanitized world it may seem like the male versions of roles as protector and leader are out-dated – but nothing could be farther from the truth. At the risk of being seen as co-opting the rape issue, I would risk my life, without hesitation for any woman being attacked in any way because I have spent most of my adult life trying to overcome the fearing human acts. Yes I may be gruff and have no patience for the promotion of evil, but I will fight for for the natural rights of every person, whether I agree with them or not.

            Thanks,

            Dan

          2. Marcia

            Dear Dan,
            Thanks for the continued conversation. I am not able to reply to your comment below for some reason, so please consider this my response to your latest contribution. I am not sure I follow it all together. We may be talking past one another about the nature of complexity when it comes to goodness and evil. We may be speaking from two very different views of how the universe is made and operates. I hope you will check out my book, Let the Bones Dance, especially the chapter on feeling. Also, some of my blog posts, like “Providential Symmetry” and some others touch on some of these issues. If you are interested, I hope you will take a look.
            Peace,
            Marcia

    2. Marcia

      Dear Dan,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I appreciate kindness whenever it is extended to me and to others even though I do not see myself in engaged in a battle. I see myself as a part of a larger world that is intricately interconnected. We are all tangled up with each other and who we are and who we become is deeply informed by all that is around us. This interdependence, which is cellular and embodied, is not a choice or a philosophy or a political stance. And this interdependence means that we do not simply render our opinions based only on our own understandings, or our experiences. We function and come into ourselves as a part of a complicated and diverse world. This dynamic is not about duty, it is about being human. Advocating for deeply held beliefs is important, and allowing those deeply held beliefs to come into contact with people who have different perspectives on similar issues is how deeply held beliefs develop integrity. The invitation is simple: make room for others, maybe the most difficult others for you to understand, and embrace the fact that you can’t and don’t define our experience.
      My letter speaks of my experience as a survivor. If you read through the comments here you will see that many, many survivors have similar experiences in reaction to the tone of the political rhetoric. It hurts us and we are asking politicians to stop, to find a different way through this painful issue. It is important for us to say stop when something hurts. That is not about you or anyone else’s opinion or perspective, it is about us having the courage to tell the truth, to tell someone to stop when it hurts. I deeply believe that our society needs more of that, not less. “Feigning empathy” is not the answer, practicing compassion might just be though. And practice means you keep trying, you keep repeating something until it becomes a habit. Compassion can become a habit, but it definitely takes practice. I pray that compassion can be what leads the way in how rape is acknowledged in every arena: political, ecclesial, communal, familial, and personal.
      I appreciate that you see a unanimity around the immorality of rape. I confess that I have not experienced that. I am not sure how we can have unanimity on the immorality of something when we can’t even agree on a definition of what it is. If you listen closely to both the rhetoric and the statistics about rape–there are still many grey areas for a lot of people on what counts as rape. And most rapists are not prosecuted, and of those who are, very few of them are actually found guilty and held accountable for their crime. I find, in fact, very little unanimity when it comes to rape. And I, too, pray for a day when we can find ways to honor life, vitality, and each person’s humanity more robustly and consistently in our world. The world would be more than kinder, it would be better in every way.
      Thank you again, Dan. I appreciate the time you took to read and to respond. Blessings to you.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
      1. Dan

        Hi Marcia,

        I refuse to insult you in the words of Sophia in her response to me by saying that rape is “strangely complex” and “It’s not a black and white issue”. Evil creates complexity in order to justify itself. I only meant that no politician or party is saying that we should allow rape in certain circumstances. I’m sorry you and others have suffered under the sinister complexity created by evil.

        I wish you goodness, truth and beauty,

        Dan

        Reply
        1. Sophia

          Dan – I did not call rape “strangely complex”. I called LIFE – right to life, when does life begin – strangely complex. Please re-read. if u want.

          Reply
          1. Dan

            Sophia,

            Pick any objective evil. Now focus on the circumstances or the intent and ignore the objective morality of the act… It works the same for rape and abortion.

            Objectively speaking we know when human life begins. If we choose to replace that objective reality with a subjective one that justifies our actions or positions we put ourselves in the realm where one’s own subjective reality trumps everything else. That is a worldview I refuse to be a part of because it is the worldview of rapists, racists, and other DNA deniers.

            I do wish you all that is good.

            Dan

          2. Marcia

            Dear Sophia and Dan,
            I hope you will see my response above. Holding you both in the light.
            Peace,
            Marcia

  41. Erika

    Thank you for speaking and sharing. Peace.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Erika, for reading and for your affirmation.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  42. Candis B

    Marcia –

    I wonder why no one – during this whole manly media circus – has suggested that a sure way to make a change is for men to teach their sons, nephews and grandsons that NO means no – and that women are not playthings – that sex outside of marriage CAN stop with the man – and that it is expected and normative for a man to KEEP IT IN HIS PANTS. Abuse and rape and belittling and presumed privilege are not of God.

    Funny how the moral responsibility is always the woman’s problem.

    To those who have survived rape, abuse, stalking, and victimization – I pray for you every day. I will also walk through fire in front of any woman for her right to make the decision that is best and most healing for her.

    For survivors: I think this is a significant image. Every artists’ rendering of Christ Jesus after the crucifixion – especially in images of the Ascension – include Jesus’ wounds. They affirm for us that yes, Jesus was human and bore real pain and an horrific death. They also remind us of the power of God to heal anything – and that we continue to heal a bit more each day, with God’s help. Your physical and emotional scars, when shared, also share your Good News with women whose scars are raw: “I have lived through it and come out on the other side. You can too.” Bless each one of you.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Candis,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I can feel your frustration and your anger around the continued patterns of violence against women. As the mother of a son I think every day about how hard it is to figure out what it is to be male in American culture. I see him try to sort all that out. And it can be heartbreaking. I know there are lots of messages out there for both my son and daughter than make sorting out a healthy sexual identity a challenge. I pray that we can all grow in our awareness of the critical power issues at play in how our kids figure out what it is to have healthy relationships.
      I love your image of the wounds and compassion of Christ. Yes, Amen. He’s been there and here with us and knows what being violated by violence feels like. It is a life-saving reality for me everyday.
      Bless you, Candis. And thank you again.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply
  43. Marylyn Huff

    Thank you for this powerful piece. I really appreciate your dialogue with people reading and responding to your writing. Dialogue is often missing today as we try to “make points”
    and fail to listen to one another or to clarify and ask questions.

    Reply
    1. Marcia

      Dear Marylyn,
      Thank you for reading and for commenting. I am thankful for the dialogue that continues to unfold from this post. I agree with you, the more we try to “make points” and in the process stop listening to each other, the more we lose ourselves and the life-giving opportunities that healthy discourse can provide us with. It is a gift to be able to hear and to speak, to be able to wonder and to hope together.
      Thank you again for adding your voice.
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Reply

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