Forgive me I haven't learnt yet how to quote your message, so I'll do it my way... ( and sorry I am so long winded. It's my wish to be really clear)
"When is a perpetrator held accountable?"
On the level of justice and intervention, the perpetrator should ALWAYS be held accountable. Every time. One hundred percent. I have NO time for people who want to say 'she tempted me' etc. That is BULL. This is not about 'the victim has all the responsibility so the perpetrator has none'. On the level of every day life the perpetrator has all the responsibility in every situation.I once read a most wonderful statement: when a sixteen year old walks into her step-dad's bedroom and pulls off her top seductively, the appropriate response is "put your clothes back on right now young lady and then we are going to go sit in the kitchen and have a serious talk"
If a woman actively agrees to have sex with a man and in the middle of that changes her mind and makes that clear and he forces her to continue in spite of her clear message, he is one hundred percent accountable for a rape, and she is one hundred percent innocent.
"My mother was in a parking lot at night many years ago and pulled into a van and raped by 3 men. She came home afterward and my dad blamed her. Told her she shouldn't have been in a dark parking lot at night, that she should have been home with her children instead. She attempted suicide that night."
For me this is your dad (understandably but tragically) not being able to deal with his own feelings. Your poor mother. How horrific.
I am guessing your own man may have a bit of this, too, dealing with the thought of you being molested. I was serious about suggesting those investigations to him, by the way.
"Hearing someone blame a victim violates a huge need of mine."
Hear hear. This is not about blaming the victim - at least it's not supposed to be. But we humans like to find ways to avoid our own difficult feelings. Personally I believe that blaming the victim is just a way to do that, never comes from a place of insight, compassion or strength.
This is why I introduce the concept of category error. On a conscious level there is little choice. The 'choice' we are talking about is on a soul level and applies to ideas such as 'we choose to get cancer', 'we choose to be born in a time of war', 'we choose our parents', 'we choose a life path that includes being blinded in an explosion at age three' etc. On that level, we 'choose' to have a life that includes a rape or molestation experience, and until we can own that and find whatever lesson or gift we were after, we will be beaten down by it rather than raised up. NO amount of punishing and blaming a perpetrator ever brings a 'victim' peace. Only walking out of the cell marked 'victim' and feeling strong again can do that.
I repeat - This is not about the victim has all the responsibility so the perpetrator has none. The perpetrator has total responsibility on the level of every day life. The 'victim's responsibility is on a spiritual level, and on that level the whole experience can eventually be felt as an agreement where there is no blaming in either direction. That's a place that's arrived at, not a place that can be argued and proven.
I think that your man's 'mistake' is to try to argue you to a place that you can only get to by your own direct experience.
"Yes, she could have been more careful...perhaps we all could be."
No-one can be so careful that this can be avoided, unless they live their life in a padded cell.
"My fiance questioned how you can offer empathy without victimizing a person. I told him I would say, I see you are in pain and I am here to listen."
I think what you say here is wise, and I think BK would agree. That's what I've seen her do as part of a process. The thing with real empathy is that you are then wide open to what that makes you feel. If you are afraid of some of your own feelings, empathy is really really hard.
One thing I have noticed with many men is they have this primal and often totally unconscious belief that they need to protect 'their' women. If something really bad happens to her, even before he met her, he somehow failed her. So he has to make it her problem in order to avoid feeling guilty himself. Because he can't ever fix it, and he can't stand to face that. His fighting and blaming and denial may ironically be an indication of how horribly painful he finds what happened to her, and how unbearably vulnerable that makes him feel, rather than it truly doesn't touch him.
"I have a hard time with BK's analogy of "if you step in a yard marked Beware of Dog and get bitten, you bit yourself. The dog just did his job.""
I think because this statement is out of context. BK's work begins with the idea that when you 'fight reality' you suffer, and the aim is to get beyond the suffering. So as long as you are stuck in 'he should not have molested me." you can't move, because in reality he DID. In this sense 'a molester's job is to molest'. The key here is another of her foundation concepts - the concept that there are only 3 kinds of business in the world 'my business, your business, G-d's business' - and when we get caught trying to sort out 'your' or 'G-d's", we suffer. Only when we focus squarely on "my business" can we have impact, make change and heal. So as long as you are stuck in the perpetrator's business "he shouldn't be that way/do that stuff" or G-d's business "Things like this shouldn't happen", we are stuck and we will suffer. When we focus in on our own "business" and discover more about that, one level of freedom follows quickly after another. So it doesn't help me to investigate why the dog is a biting dog, or why the owner doesn't lock the gate, because i have no power over these things. Me walking in through that gate - on the every day level it's a mistake anyone could make and I should never ever ever be blamed. But on a soul level I had my reasons. (And I bit myself, using the dog to accomplish that). When I can find them, I am free.
...Also free from having to repeat that situation in other ways in order to find those reasons and the gift behind them. And THAT's important. I'm sure you are aware of the phenomenon of abused women being abused and attacked again and again. They can never be really safe again as long as they remain imprisoned in victim. That's not to say they are to blame. It's just how the dynamic seems to work.
And that may also be why the men get obsessed about trying to clumsily force the woman out of victim role. On some level he intuits that she is in continued danger.
"When a child stays quiet after being molested/rape, they are certainly making a choice...not to be molested or raped but certainly to keep the peace or not be made the center of attention/cause trouble or not endanger other family members "
And some of this may also be the child's "reason" for "choosing" to get molested in the first place. Kids can be the most horrific kinds of masochistic heroes sometimes. As adults we need to be careful to take full responsibility for ourselves so they don't try rescue us... Forgive me if this is too personal but I can't help wondering whether your molestation happened before or after what happened to your mom, if it wasn't part of thier unresolved stuff, trying to express an energy they weren't dealing with effectively.
"I really want to go see The Work in person..."
Hope you do. She is quite wonderful, and very inspiring. Like anyone she has her limitations, (intellectually I have seen her once, but just once, backed into a corner,) but they are few by ordinary standards
and she has such a wonderful presence, with so much love. But even then the most useful thing is not to watch, but to work. I go to a circle that meets every few months to do this work together for just an hour, and I get more out of that than out of watching or reading BK.