Voices: How to apologize

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Dear American people,

I am deeply sorry for bragging about sexually assaulting women. Whether in that moment I was gloating about real events or unfulfilled fantasies, I was wrong. My actions toward women and my fantasies about them are wrong. I apologize for the lack of respect I have shown toward women.

Kyndall Rae Rothaus 150Kyndall Rae RothausWomen are not objects who exist for my—or anyone else’s—sexual pleasure or need for power. It is clear we have a societal epidemic on our hands, from the prevalence of rape on college campuses to the sexual escapades of public figures such as Bill Clinton and myself. I confess I have contributed to the problem by repeatedly objectifying women and denying my own culpability.

Sexual assault is a very important topic, and it deserves my time and attention, and I will not sweep this issue under the rug as if it were some small matter. I acknowledge sexual assault is a serious crime that can have devastating ramifications for victims—including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, crippling self-doubt, sexually transmitted diseases, suicidal thoughts and more. Sexual assault should never be joked about. Not on television. Not at home. Not in the locker room.

Unacceptable in any form

texas baptist voices right120I apologize for not setting a better example for our young men, and I want every person to hear me say this: Rape is unacceptable in any form.

In the past, my words have indicated I condone sexual violence, I act in sexually violent ways and sexual violence is something to be proud of. I want to be unmistakably clear about how wrong I was. Sexual contact without explicit consent is both wrong and illegal, and as a society we have to do better. We have to do better at eradicating sexism, supporting survivors of assault, educating our youth and setting an all-around better example in word and deed.

See these related columns:

• Editorial: How do evangelicals enable ‘locker room talk’ about women?

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I will start by changing my own behavior. I want to teach my sons not to rape and to teach my daughters that no one has a right to use or abuse them. And I want your sons and daughters to learn the same thing. I want every child—boy or girl—to be safe from sexual exploitation.

Embarrassed, horrified, ashamed

When I think about the way I have contributed to the culture of rape in this country, I am not only embarrassed. I am horrified and ashamed, and there is no excuse for what I said. I refuse to minimize what I have done, because what matters right now are victims of assault, not my image. I will not deflect the culpability away from myself, because I recognize that taking responsibility for my own actions is one of the first steps of recovery, and I want to demonstrate I am serious about respecting women and ending sexual violence. I will not lie about what I have done or twist the truth. I will not project my bad choices onto anyone else. I will not attack others as a way to avoid my own responsibilities.

I will stop insulting, mocking, and objectifying women. I will not discuss their bodies in sexual ways as sport. When I am feeling insecure, I will not use sexual dominance as a tool to boost my confidence. I will not “rate” women according to their looks or call them fat if they offend me. I will not brag about assault. I will publicly condemn assault, and most importantly, I will not assault.

I am so sorry for my base behavior. To victims of sexual exploitation everywhere, you deserve better. To women everywhere, you deserve better.

I was terribly wrong, and I apologize.

Kyndall Rae Rothaus is senior pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco.

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