The stories of assault, abuse, and rape perpetuated by media giant Harvey Weinstein are piling up. The long list of women—from famous names to ones I’ve never heard of—who are speaking up is eye-opening and upsetting. For some, the harassment happened years ago. It’s not that these women didn’t want to tell, but allegedly Weinstein had surrounded himself with enablers—from the people who placed the women in vulnerable situations to lawyers who would threaten to ruin whistle-blowers financially. His power took away their voice—until an investigative reporter from the New York Times shared their stories.
For those of us who are not in Hollywood, this story might not seem to touch our lives. However, it does. Many of us know someone who has suffered harassment or assault. So instead of just being voyeurs to this sad story, what can we do?
Don’t be surprised.
Don’t pretend that any of today’s stories are isolated incidents. Sinful abuse of power has been going on since Bible times. About 2,500 years ago, King Xerxes held a 180-day party for his top officials. After that he invited everyone, rich and poor, to another week-long banquet. To wrap up this seven-day drinking fest, he called for the queen to dance for them (basically just to show off how hot she was). She refused. He was livid. She was deposed.
His inner circle then suggested having a contest to choose the next queen. Xerxes, thinking this was a great idea, gave permission for young women from all around the country to be taken from their homes and brought to the palace. For 12 months they were given beauty treatments—after all, this whole Queen Search was about entertainment and appearance. After the year was up, each girl—a virgin—was sent to the king. The next morning she was sent to live in his harem. These women had no choice in the matter. It wasn’t just a career on the line. They could have been executed if they disobeyed.
Listen to the stories.
This week on social media, people are posting the words Me too. They are breaking their silence, sharing that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Listen to them and acknowledge them. It takes courage to step forward and admit the hurt from the past—or the present. Encourage them to seek professional help if needed.
As a believer in Jesus, you may not have any answers, but you do have the gift of knowing “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).
Pray against evil and for victims.
Honestly, while we do what we can, we don’t often have any worldly power or influence to prevent or end this kind of evil. But we know the One who is all-powerful. Use Psalm 10:12-15 as the basis to cry out to him: “Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, ‘He won’t call me to account’? But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out.”
Until a week ago, Linda Buxa didn’t know who Harvey Weinstein was. Now she knows more than she ever wanted to. She is thankful for the women who were courageous enough to tell their stories.