Review of RUINED at the Englewood Review of Books

So pleased to tell you that Englewood Review of Books reviewed my memoir. What a great first line: What I love most about this memoir is that it is a gift, primarily for her daughters, but by extension to other young women and ultimately Christian culture in general. You can read the whole thing here. Thanks ERB!

My Recent Adventures in the Public Sphere

featuring the Washington Post & Breitbart

Almost two months have passed since my Op-Ed appeared in “Acts of Faith” at the Washington Post, and conservative media vilified me for it. I wrote up an account of what happened and sent it to my subscribers. But as Breitbart continues to be a cultural force, and “truth” continues to be at issue, it seems best that I should set out the facts for anyone who might be interested in them.

The title of the Op-Ed was this: “Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me.”

(more…)

Share This:

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

a guest post by Rev. Laura Collins

A friend posted this on Facebook, and I thought it should get a wider airing.

Here’s her story:

So today I had a strange and unsettling experience of finding out that there was a traffic court case that has been on my record for three years without my knowledge. But when a 2nd small traffic infraction got added this year (yes, that ticket I did get), my car insurance coverage was halved and the cost was doubled. When I called to find out why this had happened, the insurance company insisted that it was because of my driving record, though I have never in my life been in the County where the first (and more serious) infraction happened.

(more…)

Share This:

The Virgin Mary & Me

in the Washington Post, "Acts of Faith"

I have an article up at the Washington Post today, in the “Acts of Faith” section. It has a long title: Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me.

Share This:

This event was called “A Church Response to Interpersonal Violence,” but a friend of mine came up with a great nickname: “Two Ruths Telling Truths.”

The two speakers are Ruth Tucker (on domestic violence) and myself, Ruth Everhart (on sexual violence). The event was sponsored by Safe Church Ministry CRC and the Sexuality Series at Calvin College. November 4, 2016 in the Calvin College Chapel. Moderated by Mike VanderLaan.

The video beings with some conference preliminaries and then Ruth Tucker tells her story. My story begins at minute 16 and runs through 29 or so. After that the “Two Ruths” go back and forth answering questions from the moderator. The conversation is done around 1:08 and then there are questions from the audience. You might want to jump to the end to see my sister Susan pop up for the last question!

One thing I learned from this event is that I don’t like sitting while I speak! I would much rather stand. Also, I had tons of trouble with my headset microphone. The other Ruth just let hers slip off, which is why the sound comes and goes for her. Next time I will bring that special microphone/cheek tape! Live and learn — life is a work in progress.

Exercising Self-Care After Sexual Assault

Victims May Need to Pace Themselves

Last week a pastor friend hosted a book event for RUINED. Her approach: “Since the subject is so hard we should make sure it’s fun.” She arranged to have the event in the back room of a local tapas restaurant and advertised it as a happy hour.

In the minutes before the event began, as she and I munched chips and salsa, she told me: “Ruth, don’t be disappointed if attendance is slim. I sent special emails to so many women! I was sure they would want to be here — and so many of them said, I’m sorry but I just can’t. I can’t think about this subject.”

I understand why women might not want to attend. Perhaps they have been victims of sexual assault, or have their own difficult stories. I want to believe that reading my book, or discussing it, would be beneficial, but I respect their need to protect themselves. Perhaps this is especially true lately, when the media has been so saturated with stories of sexual assault. All the violent language and coarseness of news accounts can be very triggering.

The 15 or so women who did attend had a lively discussion. What a lovely event! Thanks to my host, the Reverend Debbie Parsons, and Leesburg Presbyterian Church.

img_3984

Share This:

“KSBJ Sunday Night Live! RUINED”
by Kim Weir

KSBJ Sunday Night Live!
October 23, 2016

At the beginning of the show, the host, Kim Weir, talks about saying Yes to God. My interview begins after minute 9 and runs to the end of the hour.

It’s a live radio show and includes two callers — a first for me! What a challenge to hear someone express painful circumstances but not be able to see their face, ask followup questions, or have much time to consider a response.

What’s more, I know that these two callers represent a host of others who have experienced the ruination of sexual violence. I pray that each woman will find her way to recovery and wholeness. You are a beloved child of God.

A Strange Elation

Justice, Faith, and Sexual Assault

Ever since the tape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush surfaced on Oct 7, the media has been saturated with news about sexual assault. Like many other women, I have often felt jangled during the past ten days. But I have also felt a strange elation. At last we’re talking openly about the prevalence of sexual assault. At last a powerful man has to face consequences. At last women can speak their truth and be heard on social media.

Have you felt emboldened to speak out? Many of us have stories to tell because, let’s face it, when a person grows up in a female body in a misogynist culture, she’s bound to experience assault — whether it’s unwanted words, looks, touching — or it escalates to physical violence.

The assault that ruined my life — the one I wrote a book about — includes horrific details that make my story unusual: two strangers and two guns and multiple victims over five hours. But besides those details, my story is unusual because we victims testified in court and one of the rapists was convicted. In other words, we got justice!

I’ve come to see that my experience of justice is one thing that underlies my strange elation. The possibility of justice is thrilling. Justice is restorative. Justice makes God smile. Justice is an antidote to assault because it rebalances the scales of worth.

After my assault, I felt ruined. My worth had been stripped away and my future derailed. But why? Why should an assault affect a person’s sense of worthiness? It’s not even logical. Why should a victim suffer a stain from someone else’s action?

But I know why it did in my case. My complicating factor was that I was raised in a conservative religious subculture, and inundated with specific messages about what women were worth. I believed those messages — that women were worth less than men — and that women needed to be sexually pure or they would displease God. When I was raped (and secretly knew I wasn’t entirely pure) I understood that the rape was a punishment from God. That’s how I put it together. That’s how my faith increased my suffering.

I am still a person of faith, but of a re-invented faith. Because when belief causes intolerable suffering, a person has to let go of something. What could I let go of? That became my question and my quest. I couldn’t let go of my belief in God. I needed God. I loved God. Besides, it wasn’t God who stained me, put me in a double-bind and abandoned me. It was a specific belief system that did that. It was the church, at least the one that told me how little females were worth.

Over a period of years, I formed a new faith, and found a new church. My God-given intelligence and God-given desire for God drove me to do that. I discovered that God is not just a punishment-dispensing machine for ruined girls. I discovered that God loves justice and mercy, and that God created all humans with dignity and worth. Eventually I was even able to flaunt the rules I’d learned about what women are good for. I entered forbidden waters and became a Presbyterian pastor. I’ve been in ordained ministry for decades.

There are many flavors of Christianity, and as a progressive, I feel little connection to the evangelical world. Still, I notice what evangelicals say and don’t say, mainly because it gets the lion’s share of media attention — the evangelical faith is what people picture when they hear the word “Christian.”

So another part of my “strange elation” this past week has come from watching evangelical leaders abandon Trump. No surprise that it’s the women leading the way there. Many evangelical men are hold-outs of support for this admitted abuser of women. Apparently, in the evangelical world, women still have their place, which allows them to have their “pussy” groped when it suits a powerful man, especially one who has money or celebrity, or the illusion of these.

Perhaps this debacle will prove to be a turning point, not only for the election, but also for how women see themselves. Perhaps we will all tell our stories and push back. Perhaps we won’t feel ruined by sexual assault any longer. That’s my hope. Because it’s beyond ridiculous that women should feel ruined by what men brag about doing to them. We are all worth more than that. Thank God that church leaders are finally speaking up! Our faith in God should help us measure our worth, rather than measure our ruin.

Share This:

I Believe You from Diva Communications on Vimeo.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Faith communities should be a primary resource for fighting the scourge of sexual violence, but too often they have been complicit, advancing messages of purity, obedience, and gender-based hierarchies. Often times this is unconscious, and could be stopped. You can help break the silence. The trailer above is for “I Believe You,” a video resource. Click on “more” to learn about this interfaith project.

(more…)