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Take-away From Lance Armstrong
I’ve followed Lance Armstrong for years. Being the cynic that I am, I have never been able to totally buy into his innocence……but I have wanted to. Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal have more in common with sexual abuse issues than we think.
It is tempting to believe the perpetrator of a sexual abuse allegation. Just like it is tempting to believe a world-class cyclist who swears up and down that he didn’t do anything wrong. Believing them is so neat and tidy. No one has stir up a bunch of unpleasantness by asking uncomfortable questions. And it is such a nice story; “I am a pillar of society”, “Those who doubt me must have an agenda”, “I am pure and innocent, just like you want me to be”. Believe and you can walk away with a clear mind to go about your business in peace. Question the validity of their character and be prepared to have other’s come at you with their claws out.
That is exactly what happened in the Armstrong case. Those who went against the “party line” were punished. They were ostracized from the cycling world and left stranded and alone. Why is that any different than going against an abusive father, coach, teacher, or religious leader? The accuser is usually more suspect than the perp. The only difference I see is that most of those in the Armstrong case were punished and turned away as adults at the time of their “discretion”. An abused child has already been beaten down by the abuser during their youth and far more vulnerable and damaged by the bullying behavior of those around them. Even when an abuse victim comes forward as an adult, they have spent years living in fear with their dark secret and are easily squashed.
Lance hid behind his charity foundation for years. It is difficult to call someone out for their behavior when they are doing humanitarian work. Hello Catholic priests! “It isn’t possible that these “selfless” individuals could be doing something illegal and immoral; they are providing so much for others”. What a crock of crap.
We like heroes. We don’t like to question them, we just like to admire them and blindly hold them in high regard. It feels safer to have strong, powerful people in charge. A father is the head of the household and no one wants to believe that he could defile his young. A priest is the mouthpiece for the man upstairs and we don’t want to acknowledge that he may not be keeping our best interest near and dear to his heart. Lance was the comeback kid. He was a hero. He beat cancer and then rode to victory. Who wants to mess with an inspirational story of that magnitude? We want to believe, damn it!
Abuse survivors have their work cut out for them. They have to go against the massive machine of human nature. They have to tell uncomfortable truths against bigger and more powerful people. Many among us say we want to believe abuse can happen, but it is easier said than done, for to follow the abused means to walk away from the masses. And that is scary.
About Stacey Lannert
Stacey is free. In January 2009, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence of life without parole. She is currently speaking out about sexual abuse and sharing her message of love, healing and forgiveness.