How Can We Solve Predatory Behavior with So Much Victim Blaming?
I just watched brave Aly Raisman on 60 Minutes where she discussed her molestation by a gymnastics doctor. She also admits that some head honchos at the US Gymnastics organization are now giving her the cold shoulder. I assume she, and the 130 other gymnasts who were molested by the team doctor, now behind bars, are all persona non grata to the organization.
And that my friends is just one teeny reason why these girls never spoke up before. In every powerful organization where a girl wants to succeed, there is a higher stakes pressure to not bring shame to it by “telling.” Perhaps there are countless more girls, who are still afraid to speak up, who are still rising in the sport.
The other reason of course, is that these girls were groomed, and trusted the man. How could he do something to violate them when he cared so much about them? Wasn’t he just being a thorough and caring doctor, albeit with unusual vaginal treatments?
Bill Cosby’s and Harvey Weinstein’s accusers started coming out of the woodwork when one person was brave enough to tell her story. To do so prior to that was to invite disbelief, or worse, kiss your Hollywood career goodbye. These serial predators know their power, and they know how high the stakes are for someone to tell and that is what they bank on in repeating their awful behavior over and over again. But when the dam breaks, it breaks wide open, and then people come forward. How many people KNEW about these behaviors and covered it up? How many are complicit in this type of behavior being perfectly normal, accepted behavior in that world? Boys like Corey Feldman have been targeted too.
Perhaps the biggest reason to not report these heinous events however, is one that my brave friend Craig explained when he guest blogged several years ago about his own “Jerry Sandusky” type of person, who groomed him, rewarded him with great things when he was lacking a father figure, and then took advantage. No one believes a person when they try to blow the whistle on these predators. (Craig was not believed by any adults in his life when he tried to report it, please read his entire guest blog linked here.)
Boys are the victim of predators in equal numbers to girls of course. It is a real problem in our society. Remember the Catholic Priest scandals? Remember Penn State? Despite warnings, reports, and even “common knowledge” that Sandusky had a fetish for young boys, no one at the institution stopped him. No one believed the harm he was causing.
I remember when I was in sixth grade, I saw a boy doing something he should not have been doing in public. This was a popular well-liked boy, and being the blabber-mouth I was at the time, I told both my parents and the teacher. No one believed me. In fact, my parents just wanted to ignore what I told them, and then they were called up by my male teacher who told them I was “just looking for attention,” But I know what I saw, and it was a fact. It taught me a tough lesson that people don’t really believe you when you are reporting an “abnormal” event of a sexual nature. Oh boy did I pay dearly for tattling too, including derogatory chalk graffiti about me on my street, done by this boy and/or his friends. (Haven’t thought of this in a million years, but writing this brought it up.)
How many rapes go unreported because women have thought through the years that they would not be believed? And if believed, they were somehow to blame for causing it? Untold numbers.
Although it is not a true comparison, I know that I was fearful of reporting poor behavior by baseball players when I worked in promotions for the Philadelphia Phillies. I wanted to keep my job, so I didn’t speak up. And I was lucky enough where there was no real harm done to me, mostly just suggestive statements, and various pressures by players to conform to their wishes. I know all of us Phillies Girls felt the same pressure NOT to report poor behavior. So I understand all too well what victims of molestation fear in losing their status, not being believed, and in some cases (much like Stockholm Syndrome) they care for their abuser too much to turn them in.
My question then, is how can we stem the tide of predatory behavior towards girls, boys, men, and women, with the culture of victim blaming that we have? A good majority of people are not nearly so concerned it happened; they are are more concerned why the person did not report it at the time. It happened with Sandusky, it happened with Cosby, it happened with the gymnastics doctor.
These blamers are people living are in their little plastic bubbles where it is a perfect and orderly world where boys and girls who report these things get believed and the bad guys get immediately removed and punished. If that isn’t a joke, what is?