I see it has been more than a month since I posted. And I sure didn’t anticipate coming back with this post. But as I woke this morning, my heart was so heavy with this story (which happened last weekend) I feel I must write about it to alleviate the pain it is causing me.
As many of you may have heard by now, a 15-year-old girl was gang raped at a homecoming dance at a high school in Richmond, Calif. Richmond is the next town south of us. The girl’s ordeal last more than 2 hours and was witnessed by at least 20 students and other young people. No one called 911. No one came to her aid. Many of the kids joined in the girl’s beating and rape or took videos of what was happening or just stood by. You can read about the incident here. National Public Radio has had two programs on the story, which you can listen to here and here.
This incident has just burdened my heart. I am just old enough to remember the murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens, NY – also a few towns away from where I was living as a child. I remember picking up on the terror and the horror of her story, probably transmitted to me by the adults around me – most of them single women like my mom and Kitty.
This kind of crime is something that happens in a war zone, in a place where the societal framework has entirely broken down. This is something that happens in Bosnia. This is something that happens in Rwanda. This is something that should not happen in this country. No excuses.
I am asking today that we pray for the victim, of course. I cannot imagine what this girl is going through right now or what her life will be like in the wake of such a trauma. But I also ask that we pray for everyone who was a part of this crime – and every witness to what happened is as guilty as the rapists themselves in my book. Why? Because I can’t help asking myself what their inaction says about the brutality and hopelessness of their own lives. Where did they learn that such behavior is okay? From their parents? From their peers? Can you imagine the deserts of their souls? How immoral, how unfeeling, how hopeless does a person – a teenager – have to be to watch the gang rape of a peer and do nothing?
So here is the prayer I am saying today on my prayer beads. It is from Women’s Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated, and is by Julia Park Rodrigues, a contributor to the book. The original is in the first-person. I have adapted it so that we can pray for others. It is titled “For Peace After Sexual Assault.
Loving God, we know that you hold us in the palm of your hand.
We know it is so.
But why, O Lord, why?
We rage at this sin against one of us, at this defilement of her body, this assault on her peace of mind.
We mourn her lost serenity, security, confidence;
We mourn the loss of her ease and open nature.
We hate what this assault has done to her.
We feel that her body and soul may never be the same.
What has been forced on her may not be forgotten.
But send your healing on her like cool rain.
Soothe her spirit with the balm of your tender love.
Help her to feel secure again, as safe as ever within the shelter of the Lord.
Let her anger not turn inward to self-loathing,
but outward for action and purpose: to help other like her,
to bring hope to those whose faith is not so strong.
Help her, with your grace,
to moove beyond victim, to call herself survivor instead.
May you (and we and she) forgive this offense against her
and grant her the peace and serenity
of a mind and body made whole again.