“Only God can judge me.” Antonio Brown tweeted this in response to a lawsuit filed against him alleging rape and sexual assault and, likely too a response to being released by the Patriots and put on the NFL’s no play list.
I heard these words this morning before work and it made the hairs on the back of neck bristle and brought on that now familiar sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Those words were so familiar and everything in me knew Antonio Brown was guilty as sin.
Back in 2012 or 2013, I emailed my abuser and told him exactly how I felt after he stopped speaking to me when, for the first time in my 40+ years I told him “No.” In his response he said “The only people who truly know why I do what I do are ME and God.” He went on to say that “Your letter…is an attempt to cause me pain by holding me responsible for your pain.” (damn skippy). What and why he does what he does is between him and God and because God is his judge he’s not responsible for the pain he causes.
“Only God can judge me” said Antonio Brown in response to allegations of rape. He’s not responsible for taking sex or the pain he inflicted in the taking of it.
These two men are cut from the same cloth. They believe in their superiority over women. They believe they can do whatever they want to women and get away with it. Unfortunately there’s a long history to back them up but there’s also the present.
Antonio Brown, in the midst of a lawsuit alleging rape, is working out with the New Orleans Saints with the prospect of signing a lucrative contract. My abuser turned 70 this year, having never been held accountable for the lifetime of hell and manipulation he perpetrated. And this because “Only God can judge me.”
Most of us are familiar with the prospect of God’s judgement. His is righteous judgment. No man, according to the Bible, can judge righteously and most of us believe this. But is being held accountable a judgement?
And herein lies the problem. Accountability. Judgement. They are two different things. But accountability feels like judgement when the one being held accountable feels ‘wrongly’ accused. These two men believe they’ve done nothing wrong; or that they had some right to do what they’ve done; or they just don’t care that they’ve hurt another person. Their self-righteousness lies not in their own belief in God but in society’s belief in God. Societal belief in God allows these men to claim God and that claim ignites society’s sympathy. That sympathy implies “judgement.”
They categorically deny any wrongdoing, refuse to be held accountable and claim to be being judged by an obviously ‘hurt’ person. As my abuser said in his response “hurt people hurt people.” The source of that ‘hurt’ lies within that hurt person and is nobody’s fault but their own. But is pain—emotional, physical, psychological—inflicted upon the self by the self? Can one rape one’s self? Abusers will abuse and tell you it’s your fault that you’re hurt. Abusers will manipulate you and tell you you’re wrong for thinking the way they told you to. Abusers don’t abuse everyone they come in contact with though, they have ‘character’ witnesses, their brothers and sisters in God or Christ or Allah to vouch for them.
The victim has pain unimaginable; no past or future except what the abuser and his ‘witnesses’ offer up. The victim has learned to survive in the midst of the abuse and pain inflicted. They have developed whatever survival mechanisms the brain deemed necessary—withdrawal, suppression, drugs, alcohol, sex, hostility, depression, anxiety, work—and that survival is held against them as evidence that the abuser did nothing wrong. The victim has a mental disorder and that disorder resides with and is the sole responsibility of the victim. The abuser is free and clear.
It reminds of a scene from “Remember The Titans.” Coach Yoast’s daughter was visiting Coach Boone’s when some racists threw a brick through the window. Coach Yoast blamed Coach Boone saying “when your sins endanger my little girl…” Coach Boone responded “You think my sins had something to do with what happened…?” Abusers are like that. They hate you and blame you for being hated. And when you call out their hate, they accuse you of hating. So not only are you hated, you have become the hater—of yourself.
And if you substitute the word abuse:
They abuse you and blame you for being abused and when you call them out for their abuse, you are abusing them. So not only are you abused but you have become the abuser—of yourself.
But “Only God can judge me.” And as long as that is the believed and substituted for accountability, abusers will continue to abuse and get away with it.
The infliction of pain upon another person is a real thing. No one does this to themselves. No one asks for it. Abuse is abuse and people inflict abuse upon another person. No God will ever absolve them of their wrong-doing. Forgiveness is not absolution. Forgiveness is only meaningful when there’s someone on the other end to receive it and repent. No repentance, no forgiveness. But accountability will not be set aside because you feel judged.
So when you hear that “Only God can judge me” mantra, in whatever form it comes, that many ‘alleged’ abusers use, remember this: They abused someone and are now claiming innocence in the name of God. And that makes them liars. And those who would believe them are hypocrites (and yes, that is a judgement). Accountability is not judgement.
And I will continue to hold my abuser accountable in the only way I can. By Telling.