I think I need to take a class on criminal psychology or understanding criminals or whatever would help me understand why people commit violent crimes, abuse the ones they love and generally hurt their fellow human beings.
As I social work major, it is drilled into my head that I need to empathize with my clients and “tune into” what they are thinking and feeling. However I find this impossible to do with perpetrators of abuse, murder, rape and other violent crimes. I just can’t wrap my head around intentionally harming another human to that extent. It befuddles me how someone can possibly be filled with that much hate, rage or jealousy. Crimes against children especially disgust me. How anyone can look at a precious, innocent, vulnerable child and then proceed to harm that child is beyond me. This is taken a step further when the perpetrator is a parent or other family who should be filled with the instinct to protect and love that child at all costs. Mental illness aside, there is no excuse for this.
This is on my mind because April is sexual assault awareness month and I have participated in a couple of events having to do with that. Earlier in this year I helped out at An Empty Place at the Table, which is a memorial to people who have died from domestic violence. Then I volunteered to help out at Release the Light, my campus’s day for sexual assault awareness. This all culminated last Thursday night with the nationwide event Take Back the Night. This rally has a long history, which dates back to October of 1975 in Philadelphia. Today, cities all over the world hold their own versions of this event. Here in Scranton, we marched through downtown and then joined with hundreds of students at the University of Scranton for a moving and powerful rally in the courthouse square.
The majority of the night consisted of an open mic during which survivors or friends and family of survivors could come tell their stories. As person after person went up and told their story, tears began streaming down my face. There were people from all walks of life; sexual violence does not discriminate. Some of them had been raped by strangers, others by family members as children and still others by boyfriends who claimed to love them. The people who shared their stories are only a small percentage of the population of people who have experienced some kind of sexual violence. Click here for the scary statistics. I sat there horrified and numbed by the idea of what had happened to these survivors. Yet, they were survivors and stronger because of what they had gone through. Gripping my candle for dear life and trying not to melt into a puddle, I vowed to work for a world where sexual violence no longer happens. Next year I plan to be heavily involved in the RAE (Relationship Awareness and Empowerment) task force. I feel God tugging on my heart through all of these things and think he may be calling me to work with victims of abuse, especially children. This has been a surprise since its not really something I had thought about doing before. This may require me to work with and understand their abusers, which is obviously going to take some work.
I was ruminating on this today and it hit me: God loves the perpetrators of these crimes. Jesus died for the people we consider the scum of society: the child molesters, rapists and abusive parents. He loves them just as much as you and me. Not only does He love them but we are also called to love them. Love and forgive them. These are the enemies we are called to love. This is what radical Christianity looks like. How can we learn to love them? When you figure it out, let me know.