After reading Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life, I found myself distraught and weighed down by guilt for not somehow being there to protect her from the monsters who kidnapped and sexually and mentally tortured her for eighteen years. Many people in my life have dubbed me a “burden bearer” because I become deeply connected to situations I seemingly have no power to change. In my mental struggle as a burden bearer, I often find myself asking the question, “How do you fight something you cannot see?”
Rainn.org (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) reports that 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police and 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail. Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim and 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance. DomesticViolenceStatistics.org reveals that “around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.”
We, unfortunately, are not fighting something we cannot see—we are fighting something we refuse to see. The topics of sexual assault and domestic violence make us so uncomfortable that we pretend the issues do not exist. How can we not see evidence of something that is all around us? We cannot deny that this is happening in our society when it is so obviously prevalent in our communities.
How can we expect anything to change if we are shaming victims rather than enrobing them with support? Ignorance is no more a remedy to injustice as makeup is to a black eye. We have to bury our denial and equip ourselves with knowledge so that we recognize red flags in place of camouflage.
Jaycee’s story was one of complete heartbreak but also of unrelenting hope. I certainly was not her captor, but I owe it to her and to other victims like her to take off my blinders. In her book, Jaycee states, “We live in a world where we rarely speak out and when someone does, often nobody is there to listen.” Not only are we fighting something we can see, we are fighting something that can cease to exist in our lifetime.