Rev. Lora Brandis
Make us aware we are a sanctuary.
Each made holy loved right through
With thanksgiving we are a sanctuary anew.
On the way to the Sacred Fire UU workshop Saturday morning I learned of a new hashtag. I know about the #metoo movement. Now we have #whyididntreport.
I was listening to NPR’s Scott Simon report the story of the new hashtag that appeared on social media after President Trump's response to the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I know why people often don’t report. I have heard their stories. They are my friends and they are members of congregations I have served. Still, I wasn’t quite prepared for the rest of NPR’s story.
Instead of more statistics about why people don’t report, NPR aired the voices of those who didn’t report. You can go to the full story here: https://www.npr.org/2018/09/22/650698303/hashtag-reminds-us-why-sexual-crimes-after-often-unreported. Six people read their tweets including this from Chanterelle Davis: “Because I didn't even realize until weeks afterwards, in a mandatory workshop about consent and sexual assault with my sorority, that what had happened to me was rape and there was a reason I felt so gross and awful about the experience.” Two people tweeted the same words (one man and one woman): “I was just a kid, and he was my dad.”
I wasn’t prepared to hear people in their own voices saying why they didn’t report. It wasn’t the way I wanted to start my day. It would have been easier to listen to a reporter read the statistics and speculate the outcome of the Kavanaugh nomination, rather than listening to the voices of people who rarely feel safe speaking up. One reason people don’t speak up is that they know their stories are hard to hear.
The other reason they don’t speak up is because they are afraid they won’t be believed. They know our tendency to blame the victim. They know they will be attacked and possibly retraumatized.
There’s another trending hashtag: #Ibelieveher. It is a way of creating safe space where there is none. It is a way for those of us who know what it’s like to be harassed and abused to add our voice so that the lone voice is amplified. #Ibelieveher and I believe you too.
I believe you. We are each a living sanctuary for each other. Each made holy by listening. We can heal. We can be heard. I believe you.
Sanctuary Boston singing “Make us aware, we are a sanctuary.”