Rachael Denhollander, an evangelical Christian, was the first woman to speak out against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. In a tweet thread on Sunday, she said that part of the reason she waited so long to come forward was that she had watched friends and family members “eviscerate” victims who spoke out against much-loved candidates, pastors, teams or ministries.
“That showed me what they REALLY thought about abuse and what they REALLY thought about victims,” Denhollander wrote. “I knew it meant if faced with a choice between a survivor and their favorite ‘whatever,’ they’d attack the survivor.”
.. Amy Smith is an advocate for abuse survivors who runs Watch Keep, a blog that tracks reported incidents of sexual abuse in Christian communities. She called Graham’s comments “irresponsible and reckless” — and insensitive toward Blasey.
“The message he is conveying to anyone suffering from sexual abuse is clear: After a number of years, your pain is irrelevant and should be disregarded,” Smith told HuffPost.
.. She said Graham’s argument reflects a mentality she has commonly found among pastors ― that sexual assault is a sin to be handled quietly among the parties involved rather than a crime that should be reported to law enforcement. It’s no longer acceptable for people to wave off abuse allegations as irrelevant, she said, because the criminal nature of a sexual assault doesn’t change, no matter how much time has passed.
Christa Brown, a clergy sex abuse survivor who blogs about church cover-ups of abuse, said that Graham’s dismissive comments send a “dreadful” message to teenage boys and girls.
Sexual assault is not some ordinary “teenage” thing, Brown said. And it’s not appropriate for anyone to dismiss allegations of violent behavior.