Sunday, September 27, 2015

Standing by and not standing up

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

We talked about bullying a lot in school for the last few years. I read about a girl, Felicia, who jumped in front of a train last year and killed herself.

She slept with four guys on the football team at a party. Then she said she was bullied. The newspapers said it was consensual sex. If it was consensual, how is that bullying?

Why didn’t she just not get high or drunk or whatever and not have sex with four guys?

I mean I feel bad for her cause she killed herself, but then I don’t feel bad because she had sex with four guys. Who does that?

She had a “RIP Felicia” tattoo on her arm. So was she just bad?


Dear Confused,

It’s easy to be confused when someone commits suicide. It’s a final ending of a precious life.

You may be blessed with loving friends and family. You may have never been in a bullying or abusive situation. You may have true confidence and a good sense of self-worth. If you are that blessed, it means you have an opportunity and a responsibility to be a good leader. What does that mean?

It means, next time, you must stand up for someone like Felicia and not stand by. Felicia told authorities and others that she was continually sexually harassed and gang raped by a few boys.

That fact alone tells us that the “tough girl” was feeling vulnerable and wanted help. Apparently those boys felt no dishonor in what they did. Instead, they demonstrated their supposed superiority by publicly, horrifically and continually shaming her.

It’s also easy to be confused when newspapers report that Felicia’s sex was consensual. They usually report the facts as supplied by the authorities. Prosecutors may not have been able to prove rape in a court of law, but consensual sex was not proven either.

Pseudo-confident people may cover up their pain with symbols like tattoos. Our guess is Felicia inked “RIP Felicia” because you couldn’t see her losses, her sense of not belonging, or her deep feelings – so deep that she couldn’t cry except in the days before her suicide.

Felicia may have become vulnerable when she was younger and her parents died. She evidently had trauma from losing them and also when she was placed with her aunt. We don’t know if that trauma compelled her to run away from her aunt over and over. However, we do know Felicia was put into several foster care homes. Felicia may have felt she didn’t belong.

Your ability to ponder how Felicia’s depression (mental illness) could have contributed to her emotional pain can increase your ability to have empathy.

Remember you are a child of God and so is Felicia. She is loved by God, too. There’s no confusion about having the courage to help others stand up and be counted.

Felicia was cruelly objectified when all she really wanted was to be loved. That’s a righteous desire. Love and our relationships matter the most in life forever.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri       

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