author – activist – faculty – mom
Imagine you went with friends to a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language. Imagine you were unfortunate enough to be sexually assaulted by your host in that country. Your friends believed you, and helped you report your attacker. There was legal action. But you didn’t speak the language. The “experts” thought the words you said in their language seemed “coached.” They didn’t choose to prosecute your attacker.
From then on, you spent your life trying to learn the language, trying to learn how to articulate what happened to you in words these people could understand. You finally master the language, but by then the statute of limitations has run out. Many people then translate the lack of prosecution into a verdict of “innocent” for your attacker.
This story of translation is one of the challenges of securing justice for young people who experience child sexual abuse. By the time they develop the words to articulate what happened to them in language the adult world, and particularly the adult legal world can understand, the statute of limitations is long passed.
In order to successfully bring in a guilty verdict, the child is expected to speak in terms that adults can understand, expected to speak in a legal language for adults, one not natural to how they express themselves as young people. To speak in a court of strange adults, about something traumatic, and yet appear “authentic.”
The system is completely skewed in favor of abusers. If someone abuses a baby, the statute of limitations will have run out before the child even develops words in any language to even name the body parts that were touched.
Dylan Farrow insists she was sexually abused by Woody Allen, an assertion that many attempt to discredit based on the fact that he was not prosecuted and found guilty at trial. Some psychotherapists concluded Dylan Farrow was coached. But the judge in the custody case ruled in favor of Mia Farrow and said that he was not convinced “that the evidence proves conclusively that there was no sexual abuse.” The judge believed the psychotherapists who interviewed Dylan Farrow were biased, their perspective “colored by their loyalty to Mr. Allen.” But above all, we have Dylan Farrow’s own insistence, for over 25 years, that this did indeed happen. This issue of being “coached” is so insidious. This is legal mansplaining, whereby the opinion of a few psychotherapists in the 1990s gives fans of Woody Allen a legalese justification to ignore the 25-year accusation of a child, then a woman. According to the SF Gate timeline, she has been telling a reasonably consistent story for over two decades. I would recommend that the statute of limitations to bring charges of child abuse should be until the young person is 25 years old.
Dylan Farrow has no recourse for justice in the courts. But an increasing number of people are taking Dylan’s side in spite of this legal failure. And if Allen won’t face legal consequences he will at least face social ones.
Woody Allen is so believable as a molester. He has creepy sexual content in his work, but above that, he molested then married his children’s sister. According to his own son: “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression.” If we wanted any evidence that he seeks sexual connection with the children in his family, we have it. Whether or not his now wife was of age when the sexual contact began is debatable.
But what has brought this to the surface in my world is that I tweeted about #MeToo/#TimesUp in the wake of the Cosby verdict. And the trolls have been jumping in my mentions to explain to me that the experts have all discredited Dylan Farrow. But the briefest of googles shows otherwise. One brother has said publicly that he believes her. Another brother has said publicly that she is lying. The trolls use the fact that the brother who believes her was older than the one who didn’t. So what? Being fourteen meant he could see through walls? He would know if Woody Allen was molesting someone three rooms away? The mansplaining is unbelievable. I, a troll on twitter with no real name, no photo, and three followers know better than Dylan whether she was molested or not.
Go ahead, Woody Allen loyalists, you just prove the judge’s point. When people are blinded by the spotlight surrounding a celebrity they worship, they will selectively ignore or reinterpret any facts to fit their foregone conclusion in favor of the famous man. Any women or girls can get thrown under the bus. But Woody Allen’s time is definitely up. Your idol may never see the inside of a jail, but he is well on his way to dying in disgrace.