My Third Lifetime Sexual Assault – By TSA

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I’m a survivor
of two violent sexual assaults. The last one, 36 years ago, involved
severe degradation and elements of sexual torture. It’s been a very
long, hard road to confident faith in the God who allows such things
to happen, but by his grace I’m living in gospel freedom now.

I became a
survivor of a sexual assault by the TSA last month. It happened
because I’d been up all night, flying home alone after a speaking
engagement in China. I had to go through security after transferring
from the international to the domestic terminal at San Francisco
International Airport for my flight to San Diego. I didn’t understand
what was going to happen to me until it was too late.

Everyone was
herded, without explanation, into the "nude scanner" one
by one. I didn’t ask to opt out – wasn’t told that I could.
And anyway, I would never have opted for the "pat-down."
But I got one anyway, because I was wearing a money belt under my

The woman who
touched me knew what she was looking for before she started, because
she asked me if I was wearing a belt. Stupidly, I answered no, because
in my exhaustion and confusion I’d forgotten about the money belt.
She told me to stand up on a platform and spread my arms and legs.
I still didn’t know what was going to happen. I’d been frisked on
platforms like this in other countries, but never touched
sexually. She didn’t explain what she was going to do, and she didn’t
offer me a private place for the pat-down. She touched me in my
sexual parts very thoroughly, leaving nothing to the imagination,
and put her hands down my pants, front and back, bringing out the
money belt.

But here’s
the thing. I’d already been nude scanned, and she knew what she
was looking for. So why did she have to touch me in very private
areas that were not of concern? More to the point, if she can do
this, what was to stop her from ordering a body cavity search? I
realized that at that moment I was totally in her power, and she
could have done whatever she wanted to me. For this reason, I’m
calling what happened to me a sexual assault.

The effect
on me was devastating. I stood frozen in fear, shaking uncontrollably,
overwhelmed by the shame of being touched sexually in front of everyone.
But it never occurred to me to object. That’s how terrified I was.
When she released me I bolted like a rabbit from the security area,
and tried to forget that the whole thing had ever happened.

But I couldn’t.
I found myself crying uncontrollably during crime shows I’d previously
enjoyed. I began experiencing intrusive memories of that sexual
assault, as well as the prior two. I had nightmares. Only then did
the public outcry about these new "security techniques"
begin, and I realized that what happened to me was not a random
occurrence, and could happen again. I became consumed with terror
that it might.

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20, 2010

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