So, you’ve seen the light. Either you were dragged kicking and screaming out into it, or you stepped out of the shadows yourself to apologize for having victimized someone in the past. There are several articles out there telling you how to apologize for for sexually harassing/assaulting someone.
However, I want to talk to you about about what to expect, or rather not to expect if/when you apologize for the shit you’ve done.
Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, no, all men are not rapists.
But enough of you are that it’s getting some fairly major press right now.
You know, in case you live under a rock.
Those men are not outliers.
And yes, there are women in the guilty camp, too, and enby individuals. This applies to them as well.
But back to you, who may have apologized and are trying to make amends.
Do. Not. Expect. Forgiveness.
You have, especially in the case of sexual assault, violated someone’s body and their autonomy in one of the most heinous ways possible. And they do not owe you their forgiveness.
I have talked, at length, about why expecting sexual assault survivors to forgive is bullshit at my other blog, Polimicks, you can go find out why there.
And I would just like to repeat for emphasis: YOU ARE NOT OWED FORGIVENESS.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about redemption and what that looks like.
It starts with the apology.
After the apology comes learning from what you’ve done, and walking the walk.
This can look like a lot of things.
Donating money to domestic violence shelters, rape crisis hotlines, RAINN. Talking to other people about the fact that sexual and harassment are never ok. And above all else NEVER SEXUALLY ASSAULTING OR HARASSING ANYONE EVER AGAIN.
Do not trap people in enclosed spaces and flirt when they can’t get away from you.
Do not flirt with waitpersons, baristas, or anyone else who cannot ignore or get away from you without risking their job.
Do not emotionally abuse or bully people until they do what you want.
Do not physically intimidate people.
Basically, if a Pick Up Artist class or book advises. you to do it, don’t do that. A lot of the tricks those classes teach you are boundary testing tricks, so you’ll know you can trample all over someone’s boundaries with few repercussions to get what you want. The end goal of PUA tactics is, to be frank, usually rape. They say sex, but the sex they encourage you to use these tactics to get is really close to rape, if not actually crossing that line with abandon.
Do. Not. Fucking. Do. That. Shit.
And redemption does not come overnight, if it comes at all.
See, much like forgiveness, you are not owed redemption. You can work and strive for it, but it requires a bone deep change in your behavior and attitudes. And honestly, there will likely never be a “You’ve Reached Redemption!” moment. The redemption comes from living the rest of your life as a decent human being.
That is the endgame.
Be a good person.
The people you know may never trust you again, regardless of how sincere your conversion. And that is one hundred percent up to them. And ok.
The baseline for good human is not merely “don’t rape.” It involves a lot of things that a lot of people make sound harder than they actually are. Don’t be a bigot. Don’t be cruel. Don’t exploit the working class for your unearned fortunes…
It boils down to:
B. Work towards redemption.
C. Be a decent human being.
Maybe some day the people you victimized will tell you that they appreciate the efforts you’ve made to make amends and be a better person.
Probably not, but maybe.
And let me tell you something. No matter how bad you feel for having been found out, or having realized that you did a thing, I guaranteed you that most of the victimized feel worse and have ever since it happened.
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