The recent disappearance and killing of a woman walking home in London has galvanized people around the world to press for greater safety for women. A woman who participated in a gathering of protesters in London stated, “The main point that everyone was trying to get across … is that women don’t feel safe; they don’t feel safe walking down a street and that’s the bare minimum we should feel the freedom to do.”
Can the safety of women be placed on a surer foundation?
I had an experience of protection against violence that showed me there is a truly unassailable basis for safety, one that applies to women and men alike. I was studying abroad during college. One evening I missed the bus, and two young men I did not know offered to drive me home (about 20 minutes from the university). Unwisely, feeling I had no other options, I accepted their offer.
It was dark, and I was unfamiliar with the route the young men were taking. Before I knew it, we had crossed over a border into a neighboring country and were in thick woods with no lights or homes or people nearby. The young men stopped the car and started to physically and sexually assault me. They said if I resisted they would kill me.
I had been accustomed to turning to God in prayer when I was in trouble or needed protection or help. I had experienced wonderful healings in Christian Science and knew from my own experience that, as the Scriptures teach, God is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).
Psalm 91 assures us that when we abide in the Lord we are protected: “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, ... for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways” (verses 9-11, New King James Version).
“Abiding” in the Lord to me means abiding in my knowledge of God’s presence and power and love for His spiritual creation, which includes each of us, wherever we may be. This brings deliverance, as so many stories in the Bible illustrate. God’s thoughts, or angel messages, lift us up and keep us safe.
Remarkable as it might seem, as I reached out to feel God’s presence and love for me that evening, I was not afraid. I knew God was right there with me. I affirmed and acknowledged this presence in prayer, and I listened for His voice. A surprising thought came to me: These two young men were innocent.
How could that be?
The Bible makes a distinction between God’s children, made in the spiritual image of the Divine (as the first chapter of Genesis teaches), and the children of men (the second chapter of Genesis). Paul teaches, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:22).
I could see that the spiritual nature of these two young men was protected by God. While their actions in that moment certainly did not reflect that spiritual nature, innocence and receptivity to good were their inheritance as God’s sons. And I knew that these spiritual truths, held to in my own prayers, would bring healing and protection in some way.
It came to me to quietly speak to the young men of their spiritual nature as God’s sons. I said that what they were doing was not in keeping with who they really were. I talked about God’s love for them and how true happiness comes from being true to our higher nature as children of God.
They listened to what I was saying, and the tense atmosphere broke. And then they simply stopped what they were doing. They apologized and drove me home. I arrived safely. And while I did struggle for a period with memories of what had happened, I was healed of that mental baggage through Christian Science. In the ensuing years, I’ve been completely free from any aftereffects that might be associated with such an experience.
The Bible promises: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).
God’s healing and saving power and grace can redeem and save both victims and victimizers. We are all capable of experiencing the protection and purity that are ours as God’s beloved sons and daughters. This healing divine presence is here today and always as a higher and unassailable foundation for the safety of women as well as men.