Yesterday, I received another phone call from yet another Baha’i officer – or whatever the actual term should be. She introduced herself, then proceeded in immediately telling me she and another “officer” (higher ranking than herself) would like to meet with me to pray with me and help understand me better. It very much comes off much like the email I received… and not quite so much like the other phone call (as it wasn’t ridden with accusations, blame, and yelling).
She told me she wasn’t sent by the National Spiritual Assembly – though I suspect she was, at least indirectly. She said that they (the two officials) wanted to offer counseling and guidance… and to find out what I wanted out of the situation. First, I have counseling… from someone who actually knows a few things about mental health AND sexual assault. When religious figures step in as mental health professionals, the outcome never seems to be very good. Second, what kind of guidance do I need at this point? Where do they think I need to be guided to? And third, I’ve made my feelings quite clear on what I wanted. I wanted punishment that would make others aware that what he did was a crime… so that it was clear it was, indeed, a crime. The Baha’i Faith, supposedly, has no law on sexual conduct/contact with minors. Although, they do against homosexuality…? There has been some controversy on the subject, in fact. The law actually prohibits pederasty… that was translated to mean “the subject of boys.” When translated, it was assumed the law was prohibiting homosexual acts… but the child aspect of it all was dropped upon translation/interpretation. Honestly, I think God would outlaw sex with children before he would outlaw consenting sex with adults of ones own gender. Which leaves the Baha’i Faith with no technical prohibition on child sexual abuse. That means it is gravely important to punish severely in these cases so it is well known to Baha’is that it is NOT acceptable.
What else did I want? Respect. Respect for the victims who have had their lives completely disrupted by a predator. All of his victims had to live their lives hearing about what a great man he was, how kind, how generous, and a wonderful example of what a Baha’i should be. Talk about invalidating!! I seriously wonder if the others were told to shut up and be respectful of his needs over their own, like I was.
But, I went off on a tangent. The phone call. She wanted to know what would bring me “peace” over this whole thing. I tried, again, to explain. I’m guessing these people really, really do not understand what goes on in the mind of a survivor… the sad thing is, there’s plenty of information out there – they’d only have to make a few clicks with a mouse to find it.
I was told that she admired that I was standing up for what I believed was right… but it was a backhanded compliment. She added that she’d hoped I would “walk aside” the teachings of Baha’u’llah (founder of the Baha’i Faith) while standing up for my beliefs. In other words, I better be “nice” while I’m fighting. I was told countless times that the NSA cares about me and what I’ve been through. I argued against that multiple times. But, since she wanted to know what I would like… I told her. I want the Baha’i Faith to stop hiding these crimes. I want them to publicly announce that sexual abuse and assault have no place in our religion and they will do something about it – prevention, education and punishment. She told me she liked the idea, but we would have to find a way to do that while protecting the image of the Baha’i Faith. <insert your favourite shocked emoticon here>
She proceeded in telling me that if the Baha’i Faith were to make such a public announcement, that the world would think all Baha’is are child molesters. I did my best to correct her. I told her the public gets angry with those who hide it, who don’t do anything about it, who make more sexual assaults even possible. I pointed out Penn State to her. I reminded her that the public does not blame the entire staff of Penn State, nor all of the alumni. They blame the predator and his colleagues that kept it hidden – allowing him to rape more children. It took several minutes of me explaining this to her… I still wonder if it ever sunk in. It’s truly horrifying to think that these organizations believe they will be made into monsters for protecting people.
In the end, I suggested that the NSA find a group of Baha’i survivors and have them collaboratively author books and/or pamphlets to educate the entirety of the Baha’i community – teach them how to prevent, recognise, support and report! I offered a very inexpensive way to get the word out – email .pdf files to each LSA. Simple. She said she liked the idea and hoped I would help. I refused to commit, but I am interested in having a part in it. The major issue is, I do not believe it would ever be approved. The NSA might say “sure, do it” to shut me up – but I highly doubt they would ever go through with the idea.
And, of course, how much of this was just blowing smoke? Probably all of it. It sickens and saddens me.
But, no matter what comes of my ideas, the NSA is closer to winning… for now. They claim that unity is their main goal in this world. They also claim marriage is a sacred gift from God and that marital unity comes first. Well, they have succeeded in stripping my home of marital unity. I’m sure they would be quite pleased with themselves to know this. It’s not like they are going to hold marriage as sacred as they claim to… it’s already evident that they do not care what is in the writings, if those writings prove to be a moral obstacle for them. They only pick and choose the information they need to prove they are in the right. And, honestly, I’m sure I could find pedophiliac literature that proves them “right”, too.