“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31: 8-9
Have you ever had moments where you saw something you wish you wouldn’t have? Like when I was a little girl looking out a window one night and witnessed a car theft. My friend and I were peeking through the window watching a group of car thieves steal cars, but the fear that they might see us stopped us from looking longer and even more, the fear that they may find us and get us too…kept us silent.
I had a few minutes to relax before work today and thought what better place to do that than one of my favorite coffee shops. As I was sitting there, I became uncomfortable as soon as this man and his daughter walked through the front door. He looked to be in his 30’s and her barely twelve years old. He came bouncing in with a nervous energy that drew my attention immediately to them. He walked right up to the counter and she followed like a little duckling behind him. It was then that we made eye contact. I smiled at her and what I saw stare back at me sent a type of warning flag to my heart, like something was not quite right with her. At first, I thought I just felt bad for her because this man, who I thought was her father, was acting weird and she was dressed rugged and unkept. But, I couldn’t shake the mark she left on me when she looked at me. It was so helpless, so lost; it was a look that said, “Help me”. I watched as she sat waiting at the table for him drinking her Coke from a bottle. And, like a lightning flash, he whizzed her out of there, but before doing so, they had an exchange that raised question of whether they were actually father and daughter. Red flags. My heart was beating really fast, I got up from my seat, and tried to take the driver’s license down, yet all the while fighting thoughts that I was over-reacting and what can I really do to help her? Fighting against thoughts to just not get involved. Adding more silence to the silence of the hurting. But, I knew I had to try to help. Unfortunately he sped away so fast; I couldn’t get the number of his car. I thought well, maybe he has come in here before? I will ask the people who work there about him and the response I received was eye-opening and I feel represents a general attitude of the culture we live in today when ‘dealing’ with sex-offenders and any form of perversion.
I walked up to the counter, where a young guy and girl were working and asked them if they have ever seen this guy in here before? And if they knew if they were father and daughter? The girl walked away, like many do when they are faced with a situation they don’t want to be a part of. And, the guy said that he had seen him in here before. He was clearly showing irritation with me that I would even ask such a question with suspicion in my voice. This puzzled me. So much so, that I asked him why he seemed so offended by me asking? He clearly did not want to listen to anything more that I had to say, which you would have thought I told him his breath smelled or something? Geesh. I asked them if they would just keep an eye out for him and the girl because I suspect that the young girl he was with was not his daughter. At this point, the guy scoffs at me and says these words in such a definitive way, “He is fine.” Surprised by his confident assurance of the character of this stranger, I then asked him how he knew that to be true? “Well he is” (exclamation point) was his reply. I asked him if he said he was fine because that is what he would like the answer to be? I responded further, that unfortunately we live in a world that is broken and as horrible as it may appear, bad things are happening to little girls all over the world. And, even little girls in good ‘ole Lawrence, Kansas (ok, didn’t say that part, but thought it later). He did not want to hear anything about this and walked off. Upsetting, yet an interesting response.
It was just so wild to think through all that had transpired in our interaction. The purpose in my mind of the conversation to begin with was all for the sake of helping a little girl. But somehow, it became about everything but her. I still don’t quite understand his personal offense either. But what I did see in this was the silencing power that encompasses the sexually abused.
“He is fine”…what about her?
What about her? What is her story? How did she get to the place where someone 20 years older than her has won her heart, stolen her purity for the price of a bottle of Coke? Two out of three women have been sexually abused…what about them? Are they fine? Who is speaking up for them?
I think many people find themselves relating to the guy in the coffee shop where they want to believe we live in a perfect world where young girls are not getting violated in horrible ways and just prefer to live in disillusionment remaining silent. Some may be like the girl, who worked behind the counter that walked away when it was just too uncomfortable to hear. Others may be like I was when I witnessed a car theft, and didn’t want to speak up because of what may happen to us as a result of speaking up. But..What about the girl? What about the girl, who this is happening to NOW in her life? The girl who is NOW experiencing what ‘coffee shop guy’ is in denial about and the ‘car-thieve watchers’ fear may happen to them if they speak up?
Again…what about her?