I can’t talk about the Woody Allen / Dylan Farrow thing anymore. That I’m even calling it a “thing” is horrible but it’s become a thing, a thing about a famous person in the world of hypothetical instead of a very upsetting case involving a child and, as far as I’m concerned, the most horrifying way you can destroy a person.
I’m so tired of hearing about how Allen was never charged and how Dylan was brainwashed and how it’s not right to look at Allen in a critical light because there is no proof. Jesus Christ. This isn’t cheque fraud. This isn’t even murder where there is a body and evidence like fingerprints or murder weapons. This is sexual abuse. For which there is rarely evidence. What evidence do you want? (Evidence in a sexual abuse case IS victim testimony.) For which it is often next to impossible to gather proof. Which people, usually men, get away with for these reasons and more.
One of the main reasons they get away with it is because it is incredibly hard to accuse someone. It’s uncomfortable, it’s embarrassing, it’s shameful. The majority of victims never accuse. Despite this, they carry the abuse with them every day, always. And because people blame victims, either for the abuse itself or for waiting to report it like they are probably making it up if they didn’t dial 9-1-1 right after it happened. Even if they were children and their abusers were adults in a position of authority or trust.
And mostly, offenders get away with it because our justice system sucks. It either ignores the victim and/or makes the process gruelling for her…and then usually lets the abuser go free. If you don’t believe me, try actually talking to ten women in your life and see what facts and statistics you can gather from your representative sample group. Or Google some stats about sentencing for abuse. But I have to warn you, it will make you sick.
Start with an article like this:
Or consider that, for instance, in Canada…
The following cases illustrate that child sexual assault offenders tend to receive relatively lenient sentences:
– Bill Bradley – convicted of molesting (including rape and sodomy) 19 children – 6 years.
– Wray Budreo – convicted of molesting 3 children (30 year history of molesting boys with more than 22 convictions) – 6 years.
– Cecil Miller – molested 8 children (including rape and sodomy, with one victim still in diapers) – 7 years.
– Man convicted of sodomizing and molesting his stepdaughter for more than two years – 23 months because the judge said he “spared her virginity.”
– Man convicted of sexually assaulting two 12 year old girls – $500 fine, 45 days in jail to be served on weekends (he was drunk at the time).
– Donald and Sandra Rutter – convicted of abusing children from the ages of 8 to 13 – 5 years for Donald and 1 year for Sandra.
– Dr. Masura Fujibayashi (a dentist) – convicted of 17 counts of sexual/indecent assault against child patients from 1962 to 1988 (estimated over 450 victims) – 4 years.
– Msgr. John Monegahan (Catholic priest) – 14 counts of indecent assault; 3 counts of sexual assault (victims as young as 6; estimated over 250 victims) – 4 years.
– A 21-year-old man charged with manufacturing child abusive material (of first graders) – 60 days in jail, 2 years probation, 200 hours community services and does not have to register as a sex offender.
– Man convicted of repeatedly sexually assaulting two young girls at his wife’s unlicensed day-care – 4 years in prison, granted parole after a year and a half.
So, someone can repeatedly abuse a child, perhaps many children, and the maximum he will likely be sentenced to, that is if it ever goes to court, and after having the victim relive the abuse again and again, is probably six years? Six years for ruining the life of a child? Six years at best? No, please, go on. Talk to me more about how no court found the rich, famous director guilty and how he’s being tried in the court of public opinion which shouldn’t be respected…like an actual court should.
If you’ve never listened to a police officer tell a wife to be really, truly sure she wants to press charges against her husband for violence against her because it could really ruin his life, if you’ve never reported a sexual assault and had the police not follow up…ever, if you’ve never listened to someone you love blame themselves, saying they probably invited the abuse (or said that yourself), if you’ve never had to look a child in the eye when they ask if their abuser will go to jail for life and not known what to say (because you know the likely truth)…Well then, as far as I’m concerned, you haven’t thought this through. And chances are good that, if you’re a woman, you’ve been in one of these or a comparable situation. This is women’s reality. That’s not me being some kind of man-hater, it’s reality.
I’m not saying no one ever falsely accuses. Yes, it happens. But how much does it happen? Well, I don’t have any statistics for you because that’s what’s so insidious about all this abuse stuff; it’s not generally traceable or measurable outside of victims’ stories (which you’re saying don’t hold any water). But I would venture to say that, with all the unreported assaults and the reports that never make it to the cops and the reports that never make it past the cops and the cases that never make it to court and the cases that never make it to sentencing and the cases where the abuser is found guilty but given some slap-on-the-wrist sentence and the cases where the abuser is found guilty and given a deserved sentence versus the cases where the accusations are false…the odds are probably hundreds if not thousands to one against false accusations. That’s my number, no one else’s. Go ahead, prove me wrong with your facts.
The critiques of brainwashing and vindictiveness or emotional disturbance of Dylan Farrow don’t surprise me; they are critiques levelled at sexual abuse victims who have the courage to speak out every day. They are usually used as victim-blaming and silencing techniques. And, you know, I’ve been shying away from conversations about the Woody Allen / Dylan Farrow situation (even though I originally brought it up, saying my discomfort with him won out over my love of his movies) because I don’t want to fight with men–and they are, overwhelmingly, men–who want to argue with me about the lack of facts in this case. If I, someone who is as unconnected to the actual case can be, feels the need to steel myself for battle just to discuss it…how do you think actual victims feel? Well, I guess about the same as they feel every day in our culture.
For me, this isn’t just about Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow anymore. This is a very public playing out of everything that is wrong with our judicial system, with our society and, yes, with Hollywood.
Sexual abuse happens more than you want to admit.
Sexual abuse usually goes unreported.
When sexual abuse is reported, it is often dismissed by adults, those in authority, police.
When sexual abuse actually makes it to court, the impact of the trial on the victim is most often a further assault.
When sexual abusers are (rarely) convicted and sentenced, the sentences are usually a joke.
This is the world we live in. If you don’t know this, you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you don’t take this into consideration when someone says they’ve been abused I don’t know how to have a conversation with you because, despite your insistence on facts, you don’t have them.