This Thanksgiving I Give Thanks For Jessica Bennett’s Courage– She Survived Rape (and Awful “Purity” Theology) and Tells Her Story Here

This Thanksgiving I Give Thanks For Jessica Bennett’s Courage– She Survived Rape (and Awful “Purity” Theology) and Tells Her Story Here November 26, 2014
“Frank, You asked for our stories on Facebook… In high school I was raped, not by anyone associated with the church, but when I realized I no longer held what I believed was the woman’s holy grail of virginity, I felt awful. I felt judged by everyone who saw me even though no one knew for a while…” 
I’d posted this on my Facebook page: “This Thanksgiving Share Your Story with Me HERE about Your Deliverance from Fundamentalist Certainty  I WILL PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT MADE HERE ON MY PAGE IN MY THANKSGIVING BLOG ON PATHEOS.COM

Here is one stunning response that is so moving in its straightforward unvarnished simplicity and lack of self pity. When I received this I wanted to double check with the author regarding publishing it here. I thank Jessica for her beautiful courage. This Thanksgiving I say thank you to rape survivors for their powerful and unconquerable spirits.

  • Frank Schaeffer Hi Jessi, Thank you for the story. I wanted to ask if I could publish it on my Patheos Blog? I’m assuming I can because that’s how I asked for my readers to share… but I wanted to check. Can you email me to confirm?
    Best, Frank

Frank,

This is Jessica Bennett, I had posted a story on your Facebook. It is ok for you to publish it to your blog.

Have a good Thanksgiving,

Jessica Bennett

Frank, You asked for our stories. I was raised in a pretty fundamentalist Baptist environment. My family, luckily for my younger siblings, have moved away from the strict conservatism that enveloped my upbringing as the oldest of five.
Mostly what I remember about the sermons I heard growing up was the constant harping on sexual purity. I’m not a very sexual person, even now so I couldn’t understand why every youth pastor I ever had seemed to preach every sermon on how I must, as a woman, never lead the guys astray.
I agreed then that sex before marriage was wrong but it never sat right with me that it always seemed to be the woman’s responsibility to keep the men pure. I wasn’t a rebellious teenager so when I was told such and such a shirt was too low or a skirt too short, I generally didn’t wear it to church again. But since I went to church three times a week, went to the church run school, then worked in the church run school, it started to get to me.
In high school I was raped, not by anyone associated with the church, but when I realized I now longer held what I believed was the woman’s holy grail of virginity, I felt awful. I felt judged by everyone who saw me even though no one knew for a while.
All those talks had led me to believe I was now a horrible person. We never had discussed rape, we never had even talked about the fact that boys [might] try to force women into anything sexual, we had only talked about women ensnaring men. So I drew the conclusion that I had somehow made this guy want to have sex with me.
I had sinned and now no one would love me. Even when I learned it was not my fault, I still had to deal with people who still held those beliefs and a church that had no capacity to approach the… PTSD I was — by that time — suffering with. It wasn’t any one person’s fault but the enviromental mindset that has become doctrine is faulty.
P.S. I saw you talk once at the Brattle Theater [Boston] and totally enjoyed it.

I still want to help girls/women that grew up like me, damaged by the purity myth. I just haven’t found the right venue yet. If there is anything I can do to help though just let me know. I am dying to be useful. 🙂

Jessica

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Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace

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