Sexual misconduct and domestic violence continue to devalue women

By: By Peggy Covington - Guest columnist

In 1987, Congress recognized that women’s history is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, courage and long-range vision. Having recognized these “jewels,” March was declared (by Congress) to be National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.

Sojourner Truth, born into slavery, was so convinced of women’s rights that she made an appalling statement in 1851 at a women’s rights convention: “Where did Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with that.”

The public opinion of women is rather positive (mother, wife, lover, etc.) until they begin to speak out and challenge perpetrators of sexual misconduct and domestic violence. The tone changes quite drastically with words designed to demoralize and discredit (weird, crazy, liar, psycho and slut).

Approximately 94 percent of the female population have been victims of sexual misconduct. Sexual abuse causes lifelong damage that causes shame and difficulties with careers and personal relationships.

On Feb. 8, 2018, our local newspaper ran an article/editorial directed at sexual misconduct. Since that time there has been much print and chatter on the subject, namely:

(a) North Carolina has 15,000 untested sexual assault kits. Texas has 20,000 untested sexual assault kits. This comparison is important because North Carolina has ¾ the number of kits as Texas, while Texas’s population is three times that of North Carolina. The untested kits go to the heart of lack of due process for victims and the accused as well. Lack of due process becomes a barrier to justice.

(b) Child Sexual Assault- Discussion of this subject has long been prohibited or restricted by social custom.

Currently in North Carolina there is much debate about how universities handle campus cases of sexual misconduct. The question is “whether or not to adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability.” The public’s right to know how the universities handle such cases is what the university officials fear most. They have admitted they can release the information; but they don’t want to. The atmosphere of secrecy grows out of this lack of remedy. The perpetrator feels free to continue offending and take his/her misconduct to another level.

The lack of remedy causes “kangaroo courts” among groups. The victim(s) damage from the sexual misconduct is not nearly as devastating or as humiliating to the victim as that of kangaroo courts on college campuses or in the community among the public.

I would like to share with you some stories about sexual misconduct and domestic violence that really affected me when I was a child. These are true stories about people in the community, the names have been changed.

Sexual Misconduct and Domestic Violence — Bruno and Maggie were married with children from previous relationships. Their home was searched “by the police” and some “white lightnin’” was found. Maggie was arrested. There was a trial held for Maggie. The evidence of her guilt was presented by the prosecutor. The witness used was Maggie’s 5-year-old daughter. Maggie’s daughter took the stand and was asked to identify a glass that was half-filled with water. The child’s reply was “That’s a 50-cent drink.” Maggie was convicted and served time in jail. Bruno took advantage of his stepdaughter (a minor) and engaged in sexual misconduct with her the entire time Maggie was incarcerated.

Until today, I can still hear Maggie wailing and crying when she learned of this. The stepdaughter became an alcoholic and died at an early age.

Jack and Jackie were married — domestic violence against the wife was normal in the household. Jackie was constantly beaten by Jack and she was forced to run for refuge and safety. Unfortunately, one night when this happened, she died.

Sexual Misconduct/Childhood — Do you recall 20 years ago when Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou were frequently talking about their childhood experiences involving inappropriate behavior? At that time, experiences of that nature were not discussed.

Margaret had bizarre flashbacks and troublesome feelings listening to these women. Margaret began to remember the grooming process she experienced at an early age. Grooming is a gradual, calculated process of a targeted victim and the selection of the victim is an incredibly strategic, well-planned process. The grooming is focused on manipulating the public and community’s perception of the child in advance of the abuse. This behavior, in a sense, opens the door for a kangaroo- court attitude towards the child and the child is publicly ruined by a false impression that has been created by the perpetrator. The victim at this point is trapped in the relationship and is less likely to expose the perpetrator.

On the good side, every hand you are dealt, no matter how bad, need not be a skeleton in your closet; it has the potential to be a winning hand. Play the hand you are dealt with faith, courage and belief in God and yourself. This is me. #MeToo

I ain’t mad at ya.

By Peggy Covington

Guest columnist