I got the news yesterday morning that Jeffrey Epstein had committed suicide.
For those not familiar with the case, Epstein was a billionaire who ran in powerful circles and was convicted of sex offenses against minors. He had previously been given an unusually lenient sentence for his crimes and settled numerous civil suits out of court. This summer he was indicted for sex trafficking of minors and was denied bail. On Saturday, August 10th Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell, pronounced dead from an apparent suicide. The trial for Epstein had yet to begin.
When I read this, I felt so many things for so many people, but the overarching emotions were anger, rage, bitterness.
I wanted to scream and shake my fists at how unfair this was. How cowardly. How hurtful. How his final act was just as selfish as the life he lived.
I quickly sent a text to my extended family. “I AM SO ANGRY THAT JEFFREY EPSTEIN TOOK SUCH A COWARDLY WAY OUT OF FACING THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS ACTIONS.” They agreed.
I felt the wound open. The victim and survivor within coiled like those two chains of DNA that create the double helix. These new strands now added to my genetic makeup giving me strength, resiliency, empathy and compassion; an understanding of what it means to be a victim and now a survivor.
I wanted justice to be served. I wanted justice for those women and I wanted to see this man face his consequences, to hear their stories, to look them in the eye, to feel the weight of what he had done.
Unfortunately, now I don’t get what I wanted, and these women don’t get the opportunity to stand up and put this man in his place. This feels like the last smack in the face to all those he’d hurt for so many years. Him getting the last word, the final say, a big “middle finger” to the world.
I stopped and reflected on my own story, my own process, my own move through the pain and asked myself the questions that I’ve asked a million times: “What is justice? Would I ever get the justice I so badly wanted? What would that look like?” I have spent a long time processing these questions. Wondering what an “ideal outcome” would be, and coming to terms with the fact that I may never see anything remotely like it.
When I considered facing my abuser, I felt deep within me that I had to do it for the right reason. I didn’t want it to be fueled by hate and ire, I wanted it to be purposeful and thought through. There is no right reason for everyone, it isn’t a “one size fits all,” but there is a right reason for each victim. Mine was safety. Speaking up so that more women wouldn’t be victimized by the man who could easily manipulate and con his way out of every tight spot. I couldn’t control him, nor could I have much control over the consequences he faced, but I could speak out, I could name him in a lawsuit, I could put something on his record so that maybe, just maybe, people would think twice before letting him work with young women again. When it was all said and done, it felt like a tiny drop in the bucket of justice I would have loved to pour over his head.
I believe true justice will never be served this side of heaven. That has been proven time and again when we see abusers walk free or when they are merely given a slap on the wrist.
How can I sleep at night knowing my abuser is working with kids again? That he and his family have simply started fresh on the opposite side of the country? I could lay awake trying to understand, willing the worst to happen, but what would that give me personally?
I have come to realize that true justice is living my best life, as cliche as that might sound. It is me living a life of health and wholeness, of being present in the moment with my kids, of focusing on all the things that bring me joy, meaning, and deep connection. He can while away his life carrying the secrets and burdens of his past, but I can pursue greater things, unburdened because I choose to live in light, in fullness, and in the truth.
There is so much hope I have for all the women Jeffrey Epstein victimized. Hope in their future, in their dreams, in their healing. To think about how many have been so hurt is excruciating, but I also think about the choice they now have. They can effect so much change, like so many survivors before them. They can change the tide, the culture, they can become a movement of strength and courage that we get to see and be a part of. They get to replace his face of evil with a face of hope.
I will pray unceasingly for them as they process their own emotions around his death. I pray for their own journeys, their healing, for their families and all those affected by one man’s actions. May this be a catapult for all of us – to listen, believe, and take every opportunity to give these courageous women the opportunity to be heard. It is their stories of strength that we now get to follow, and I believe that is a greater justice than anything I could have come up with on my own.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.