Mass Shootings, & a Rape Culture – What You Can Do?

I read about Omar Mateen killing 49 & injuring 53 in the deadliest shooting in Orlando just after I finished reading this brave, and stunning letter by the victim in the Stanford rape case that went viral.

I’ve been reading articles this past week trying to make sense of what we’re not seeing when this kind of violence continues to happen. How can we be the change?

What do you believe is the source of violence in our world?

You’re familiar with it.

I’ve experienced it the same way I hear this kind of devastating news – with shock, sadness, and anger.

It was all around me, but for a long time I couldn’t see it. I’d grown up sheltered from it.

It wasn’t until I was willing to speak up for what I believe knowing it went against someone else’s views that I began to see..

It exists regardless of culture, status, gender or education.

It was in Omar Mateen saying inflammatory remarks about terrorists, and when he physically abused his wife.

It created his rage against the gay community, and shame for being attracted to it.

His father declared “God would punish homosexuals”. Their religious beliefs had it too.

It was also in the polite, hardworking Stanford athlete, convicted of sexual assault raised in an affluent community with a devoted stay at home mom, and father who coached his teams growing up.

Maybe you call it something else.

I call it entitlement. It says:

“I believe you deserve this nasty way I get to treat you because of who I am to you, and what I believe.”

It’s easy to spot entitlement in religious beliefs gone awry with doctrine. In countries where aggression, fear, and control dominate the culture, it’s blatant.

But when parents make their child the victim and give them the benefit of the doubt no matter what they’ve done – entitlement is hidden under the veil of ‘privilege’.

Children raised to hear the word YES when NO was the appropriate response.

There’s not only a failure to stop, and have a conversation around “My God, what have you done? This is NOT ok. Do you understand why that behaviour is not appropriate?”

There’s a bigger blind spot.

Omar Mateen was a known trouble-maker growing up in Florida. He was so violent, people joked he would become a terrorist. I’m sure many in the community thought “NO, this is not ok, but what can I do?”

People had signs along the way similar to how a wife knew before she married her abusive husband. What’s missing when the system isn’t set up to say “no, this man cannot purchase an assault rifle” when the FBI had investigated him for terrorism?

Entitlement runs rampant. We all know someone who doesn’t see it within themselves.

Most of us don’t want conflict. We know when speaking up will result in defensiveness or a full blown attack. Instead, we put on our mask, and quietly look the other way.

I’ve had to do it. Risking harmony isn’t worth it on some level.

But I’ve noticed the more I hear my own inner voice – the more I’m not willing not to say anything.

When we don’t say anything, a deadly problem emerges for all of us.

Entitlement gives people permission to judge another person with “I’m owed this! You deserve whatever crap I’m dishing out.”

It’s the parent yelling abusively at their child who doesn’t follow their rules, who’s not playing a sport the way he should or an instrument well enough.

You’re entitled to treat your child this way as their parent? And then wonder why your child talks back, keeps getting into trouble, and doesn’t respect you later?

It’s the teen attacking their parent with rude remarks, sarcasm, and a bad attitude. I see parents shrug it off – it’s how teenagers just behave?

It’s the impatient, or demanding remarks by a partner who’s had a rough day. Your bad day means I have to suffer?

It’s what we allow, settle for, and accept in how we treat others, and how they treat us when deep down we know: it’s NOT OK because it’s the opposite of kind, loving behaviour.

At the extreme, it’s a sexual assault. It may be a mass shooting.

Entitlement has all kinds of levels of what you think you deserve where someone else becomes your victim.

If you behave this way on some level using any kind of justification for your destructive or coddling of bad behaviour, you are fostering entitlement.

Speaking our truth when someone feels entitled is not easy.

In our every day lives, we don’t have a situation where someone is found guilty standing before us in a courtroom.

We may not have the inner strength this courageous woman developed through her pain, and resilience. Perhaps our outer support is lacking, and standing alone can be scary.

It becomes my version against yours.

How Evil Lives on

So how exactly did Brock Turner, a young man with no track record drag an intoxicated woman across the ground, who’s alone, and vulnerable, remove her clothing, and sexually assault her?

It’s not just because he felt like it. He didn’t simply make a mistake due to poor judgment from alcohol.

The Many Influencers of a 20 year old:

1) His mother: Her plea letter to the judge for mercy screams one thing: VICTIM.

It detailed all the pain and suffering her son, and their family experienced since the guilty verdict right down to their financial woes – gosh she was unable to decorate her new home.

2) His father: His plea letter to the judge screamed BLAME. He recommended his son teach about the dangers of alcohol, and promiscuity, and said “that’s a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action”.

It’s expected any parent would defend their son. They obviously love, and care for him. But wait – had they forgotten their son was found guilty on all 3 counts of sexual assault?

Where’s the mention of the woman their son had physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually scarred for the rest of her life?

Entitlement is all about you.

3) His past girlfriend of 2 years: “I have never been so angry with God in all of my life, for instilling such pain on such an undeserving soul.”

She’s blaming God for her ex-boyfriend’s actions, and consequences?

4) His sister: “A series of alcohol-fueled decisions that he made within an hour time span will define him for the rest of his life.”

No. Committing sexual assault against an innocent woman will define him for the rest of his life.

5) His grandparents: “Brock is the only person being held accountable for the actions of other irresponsible adults.”

The irresponsible adult was one of your children in raising a child who is guilty of irresponsible, destructive behaviour towards another human being.

6) His Community: One resident of 20 years in his affluent Oakwood, Ohio hometown described it as a community with a “dark side.” A place where kids don’t hear the word “NO”, and expectations run high.

7) Judge Persky: “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Brock is likely more of a danger to himself with all the self-pity.

The judge was a Stanford graduate. A Lacrosse Coach. He’s presiding over a case where the defendant was a Stanford student on a swimming scholarship?

This judge completely missed what this man had learned that made him a danger to others:

I need to fit in, and I can do no wrong.

What clearly still hadn’t been learned from the legal proceedings!

The parents hired a lawyer not seeking truth or justice, but in a desperate attempt to get their son off the hook, and avoid the consequences.

Their son tried to flee the scene, and proceeded to tell a ridiculous story of consent. That she liked it, even had an orgasm.

Alcohol, and a party culture was to blame.

There was no apology.

The victim’s impact statement fell on deaf ears.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today…I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on.”

She is mature, and takes ownership. He is immature, and failed to take responsibility.

“To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging.”

Entitlement will go to all lengths to save its own ass.

The judge was blinded by the false pain created by a victim mind-set (self-pity, denial, blame),  instead of the true victim’s real suffering from sexual assault.

By sentencing him to a mere 6 months with 3 month’s probation of the 14 year maximum, Persky is fostering the rape culture. Ideally punishment or consequences are to instill remorse, and responsibility.

In other words: grow up, for all our sakes.

Time in prison would provide solitude away from his influencers that helped cause this attack.

Assign him a mentor who understands what taking responsibility means, and not blaming the circumstances, and other people. Have the parents pay for that.

It takes a community to raise a villain, and all those responsible need to understand their part.

I have compassion for the fact that this young man grew up in an environment learning to blame, and run from responsibility.

It creates low self-esteem, and develops a silent and deadly sense of entitlement. Still, it cannot excuse his behaviour.

One Courageous Voice

When you share your experience as someone who’s been wronged without blaming or judging another person, there’s a different message you send:

You are NOT entitled to be confused, wiggle your way out of your actions, blame, and make up lies where you fail to take responsibility. 

She doesn’t condemn him. She doesn’t want him to rot in jail.

She wants him to understand what he’s done – not just for her sake – for his, and the greater community.

Her words burned through the one thing that entitlement couldn’t take: her self worth.

She spoke for millions of voices that aren’t heard.

An estimated 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime. This is atrocious.

Not enough people stand up for what’s right in this world when we find ourselves faced with what’s wrong. It’s not easy to do.

Thank God there are those willing, and able to speak up loudly, clearly, and provide the inspiration for us all to do the same. That’s what she’s done for me.

I shared her letter with my 3 teens. I want them to hear what it sounds like to speak up for what’s right without condemning someone else.

Our work is to recognize entitlement in ourselves, and stand up bravely against anyone throwing around entitlement towards you.

When we don’t, we no longer see the light in another human being or ourselves. That’s the real danger.

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