The exposure of the late Dr. Richard Strauss, of Ohio State University wrestling team notoriety, is one of the most egregious examples of male sexual abuse to be brought into the spotlight since the #MeToo movement began.
I can relate to how they feel because I too experienced the feelings sexual harassment leaves you with. My case involved rebuffing advances from an older woman whom I thought was a trusted colleague. Despite the reversal of the usual roles normally at play, the feelings of disgust and intrusion remain the same. After calling her out, she went to great lengths to attempt to discredit me, enlisting the help of the Workplace Bullying Institute; have me blacklisted; sabotage speaking engagements at universities; sent letters to everyone in my email address book – all of this in retaliation for me rejecting her advances.
I received plenty of advice about going easy on her because she was a woman who does a lot of good in terms of bullying, and that pushing this could ruin her career. However, there needs to be accountability for everyone’s actions regardless of the circumstances in anyone’s life.
I know the toll of keeping this injustice buried. We need to be reminded to think about people like the Ohio State adults who continue living with scars from wounds inflicted decades ago. I don’t have the same scars as far as the advancements, but deep ones as far as having my reputation discredited, which is my only currency.
Other men have suffered at the hands of women, too. Recently, this New York Times article revealed how a world-renowned female professor of at New York University was found responsible for sexually harassing a male former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman.
We may want to try to sweep this under the mat or bury it, but it’s impossible to bury it out of one’s mind. What we really need is not to be found in revenge or vindication, but in finding some degree of closure to a horrible experience. At Ohio State, Jordan labels them all liars, when he’s in fact a bully continuing to try as evil predators to turn the victims into villains. This is yet another text book example of the dynamic of bullying. It is not easy to grasp the magnitude of this problem, especially without first-hand experience; however, we need to get to the bottom of this.
It’s time to stop treating victims like villains. The Catholic Church, which has covered up sexual abuse for centuries, has recently taken steps to correct past injustices and to prevent future ones. The most recent discovery of hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania having sexually abused over a thousand boys and girls for decades, couched as a forgivable sin instead of a crime, points to how deeply into our society this behaviour penetrates.
Predators whether in the past or present, must be exposed and held accountable. If the current situation weren’t as bad as it is, we might be able to forget about the past, but until such time when the villains step forward and attempt to right their wrongs, these past allegations need to be exposed.
As was recently reported, a waitress returned $1000 she’d stolen years ago along with a handwritten note of apology. The guilt she’d been carrying for years was immediately lifted. It’s never too late to make amends.
For people who have been victimized, receiving an apology goes a long way. Influencers – coaches, teachers, etc. would be much better off if people would take responsibility and apologize. Is that risky? Yes, but it’s much better than being exposed.According to Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University basketball coach and author of the book, ‘Leading with the Heart’, “When a leader makes a mistake and doesn’t admit it, he is seen as arrogant and untrustworthy. And ‘untrustworthy’ is the last thing a leader wants to be.”
A number of years ago, in my role as being an ambassador for MSF (doctors without borders), I went to the Republic of the Congo. One of the most remarkable experiences was talking to mothers of young sons who had been forced to become rebels – ultimately killers. Families who had relatives killed by these young killers were faced with the difficult decision of whether to welcome these kids back into their families. Most did, and in doing so had to forgive, because if they did not, their society would not survive – no one would be left.