Popular speaker and teacher Beth Moore has reflected on what she's learned as a victim of sexual assault and encouraged parents to teach their children to confidently use the word "no" when it comes to unwanted sexual advances.
The Living Proof Ministries founder began her Dec. 13 op-ed, titled "Why consent isn't all there is to it," by pointing out that while it's demoralizing to see the "continual surfacing of one public figure after another accused of sexual misconduct, harassment, abuse, assault and, in various cases, rape," "it's about time" such matters come to light.
"I do not claim in this article to speak for every woman or girl who has been abused, assaulted or harassed but I'd like, if I could, to speak from what I have experienced, seen. heard and learned, not only as a victim but also as a servant to women for 35 years," she said.
Moore asserted that a line needs to be drawn in the sand when it comes to the word "consent." However, when she was young, the word "no" was not even in her vocabulary.
"The boundaries around my life were bulldozed early and by a bully, I might add, because, while not all bullies are sexual predators, all sexual predators are, in one way or another, bullies. There was no manual within my reach about how to rebuild those crumbled boundaries," she explained.
As God raised her up and restored her, Moore said she came to realize that she -- and all women and men -- have the right to say "no" to unwanted sexual advances.
"Not a meek little whispery wispy 'uh uh' but a full volume, confident, steel-strong 'NO.' It's not too late, no matter how old you are," she said.
The "Audacious" author went on to remind parents their role is "titanic" is raising children to learn about the boundaries they get to draw around their lives.
'Train them up with the confidence to use one of the most vital words in their entire vocabulary," she advised. "And also teach them about how we can feel so pressured and overpowered, we feel like we can't say no and how we can muster up the courage to get that reluctant term to bounce out of our mouths."
For parents whose children have been sexually assaulted, Moore said to refrain from shaming them - and don't withhold physical affection "like they've become a pariah."
"Help them," she said. "There won't be a do-over on your initial reactions to their detrimental sexual experience. It will be hard for them to talk about so try to read what they are telling you by their behaviors and create a safe environment for them to communicate. Believe them as they slowly open up to you about what happened and show compassion and strength and facilitate whatever further help they may need. If there was legitimate welcome and consent, for crying out loud, still love your child and work through the complications."
Moore said she wished tools "like understanding (and expecting) pressures to give consent and like learning how to exercise the right to say no would solve everything."
However, while these methods can have a "strong impact," they are often "little to no help" in situations of rape or assault.
"If you or someone you love suffer (or have suffered) such a torrential crime, please know there is help out there," she said. There is healing to be had in Christ and much esteem, dignity and strength to be regained in Him."
Concluding her thoughts, Moore pointed out that a mere five minutes of "stunningly selfish sexual pleasure can cost a victim a lifetime of suffering."
"Let's keep this truth ever before us in these days of ever-surfacing evil: God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. God has no dark side."
On Twitter, author and evangelist Christine Caine shared Moore's article along with the caption: "This article by my dear friend @BethMooreLPM is so powerful and helpful. One of the many reasons I dedicated my book Unashamed to her, was because of her passionate commitment to helping women overcome the pain and shame of victimization. So much gold in here."
"A well meaning mentor told me at 25 that people couldn't handle hearing about sexual abuse and it would sink my ministry. It didn't," she wrote, encouraging victims to speak out and call out wrongdoing.
"#WeToo get to stand on solid ground and be counted. We too get to help other girls stand. We too get to say, 'I understand. I believe you,'" she wrote.
"#WeToo have dignity. We too have courage. We too can heal. We too have community. We too can be unashamed. We too can see to change.
"#WeToo are loved by God/defended by Christ/upending the darkness/bringing to light/devoted to love."