How Old Were You?

No longer silent and no longer alone, voices emerge in response to a simple, heartbreaking Twitter question: How old were you when an adult authority pursued you sexually?

byJeff Chu3,990 Views
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  1. Leadership Journal posted a piece last week by an anonymous former youth pastor who had abused a young person in his care. The piece focused on the perpetrator's losses, short on empathy for the victim, and widely considered tone-deaf. As the hashtag #takedownthatpost emerged to pressure the publication to reconsider the essay (which has since been taken offline), Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior invited other voices to the conversation—those of men and women who had been abused. She had a simple but difficult question.
  2. I asked Prior why she created the hashtag #howoldwereyou. "Publishing the article and then being slow to respond to critics’ concerns revealed a shocking naiveté on the part of the article’s editors," she said in an email. "I know of so many people, including myself, who have had experiences as children or teens in being pursued sexually by an adult authority figure that I thought letting the editors and the world know just how common such occurrences are might be an effective way of turning attention away from the article to those who really suffer as a result of abuses of power." 

    In a dream world, nobody would have replied. But as Prior noted, "my sense about the pervasiveness of the problem was, sadly, proven correct over the next several hours." 

    The responses quickly came, creating a collective picture of abuse of power, betrayal of responsibility, moral failure, and broken trust. A selection: