June 19, 2014

WTF Moment:

I really feel like I am stuck on a hamster wheel. Around and around we go. Every time an article pops up on my newsfeed about a woman being violated or assaulted, I can almost guarantee what the comments section is going to say.

And no, it's #NotAllCommenters, but it's enough to point out that victim blaming is still alive and well in our culture.

Today, our victim is the third of five women to come forward and say that Columbia-based criminal defense attorney Javier Armengau assaulted her. This woman claims that on nearly 10 occasions while he was defending her son, he stripped and masturbated in front of her, and that on the eleventh occasion, he forced her to perform oral sex in a conference room. He did this after claiming she should have sex with a judge that was "in [his] pocket" in order to get a reduced sentence for her son.

I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to have the person seeking justice for your child violate you in such a way.

Many commenters, however, have indicated that they find her story suspect, because why would she keep going back?

I think I'm going to throw up in my mouth, so before I do, I'm going to share that trauma with you guys. Enjoy!

I am seriously hoping that this guy was a troll.

It must be nice to be able to afford different counsel. The attorney in this case, however, was acting as a public defender, which would seem to indicate that the family could not afford to retain their own.

Yes, innocent until proven guilty. Isn't it sad that we don't apply the same courtesy to victims of sexual assault and abuse?

So, I'm fairly certain that Jimmy is a troll, but I included it anyway, just in case. It gives me a chance to address the "You consented then, so you can't revoke it" argument I hate so much. Please quit saying these things--and in this case, we don't know whether she freely consented (or consented at all) to these actions.

Either our friend Quinn was also trolling or he was off his meds, because in a response to another commenter calling out all of the victim-blaming, he said he was not, in fact, victim blaming in any of his comments.

Quinn, my friend, this is victim blaming. "It's her fault" implies responsibility and someone else placing that responsibility on her implies blame. As she is a victim, YES, you just blamed a victim.

Again we come back to not understanding the dynamics of an arrangement where one party has all of the power over another.

Inevitably, there will be jokes at the victim's expense.

Again, I'd like to reiterate, even if she consented to all ten sessions--and we don't know that she did--that does not mean that she consented to oral sex. You can set boundaries.

Again...a woman in a desperate situation, and a man with considerable control over her child's future.

This is a type of victim blaming. You wouldn't be a victim, so how could this person? You would have made different decisions and prevented this, which implies that the victim could have controlled their situation.

It's sad when those that seem willing to support the victim start off blaming them.

"Good reason to find another lawyer"...so many assumptions that this woman could just get another lawyer.

Don't worry folks! She's totally NOT blaming the victim!

Just questioning the victim's integrity, that's all.

"I was a victim and I was affected differently and I did things differently so this victim is wrong or not a victim at all."

If only she had only reported him, she could have prevented being put in a position to be raped...

Victim blaming is insidious, and it is wrong. People keep asking "Why didn't she report him?" She was a woman who, based on the information available, was most likely poor. Her child was in the system, charged with a crime. This man was assigned as a public defender to her son's case. How is it hard to see that she'd be willing to go to extreme lengths to keep this man on her side? How is it hard to understand desperation?

Lest you lose your faith in humanity entirely, allow me to leave you with the Gold Star post from this comment thread. There were many, many great responses, but this was one of my absolute favorites.

Thank you, Merricart, for that beacon of reason among all of the chaos of madness.

May I reiterate: The alleged predator is, in fact, innocent until proven guilty. However, his victim is too. This willingness to extend a courtesy to someone accused of a crime that we do not extend to the alleged victim of that crime is mind-boggling.

Stop blaming victims.

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