sexual abuse

Everyday, Easy Cowardice (Palmetto Virtue Edition)

#rapeculture | #WhatTheyVotedFor

House Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC04) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, 6 January 2016, before the start of the committee's closed-door hearing. The House committee is looking into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya and is interviewing former CIA director David Petraeus as the investigation enters its third calendar year, and a presidential election year. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

The report from Griffin Connolly, for Roll Call, might not be surprising—

Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will not initiate an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump, he signaled in a letter Tuesday.

—but it seems worth pointing out that Republicans are not even trying. Nor is this a new phenomenon; it just seems especially relevant.

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Not Quite Nostalgia (Easy Pickings)

#familyvalues | #WhatTheyVotedFor

This is a candidate for Freudian Slip of the Year:

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore responds Wednesday, 27 April 2016, to complaints made in January by various groups protesting his administrative order explaining the legal status of the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Act and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act in Montgomery, Alabama. (Detail of photo by Julie Bennett)The former judge condemned the Washington Post story during a campaign speech in Huntsville, Alabama. Earlier, another fellow Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, urged Moore to drop out of the race, saying Moore’s explanations had been inadequate.

In a Huntsville gym, Moore assured supporters that the Post story was “a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign” and that the allegations that he was “involved with a minor child are completely unfalse and untrue and for which they will be sued.”

(Associated Press; accent added)

Just sayin’.

Once upon a time, there was this short, angry man touring the daytime talk show circuit, cosplaying a Grand Something of the Kaykaykay, and to be honest when he got all worked up he reminded of a skinny, embittered, ranting garden gnome, and then someone would talk back to him and he would really go off, to the point we could not understand the words coming out of his mouth.

Whenever these good ol’ boys get themselves so worked up as to stop making any sense whatsoever, the beady-eyed joke in a robe, the unbelievable stereotype of what it takes to be a supremacist, finds time for a comeback tour. Or maybe Cartman is more accessible; imagine one of these angry, Southern, white supremacists getting so screechy and incomprehensible that you never realized until that moment the South Park character was actually a stereotype and not parody.

Oh.

Er … ah … well, now you know.

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Image note: Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore responds Wednesday, 27 April 2016, to complaints made in January by various groups protesting his administrative order explaining the legal status of the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Act and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act in Montgomery, Alabama. (Detail of photo by Julie Bennett)

Associated Press. “The Latest: Moore dismisses allegations, says suit to come”. 12 November 2017.

Obvious (Rape Culture)

[#rapeculture]

"All of a sudden, I could do anything." ― Mikasa Ackerman

To the one, it’s not Harvey effing Weinstein. To the other, that fact is only distally or, perhaps, if proximal, tangentially related to anything. The important point about systemic or habitual abuse is that it requires system and habit.

A former teacher at a Catholic school in Queens who said she had reported the sexual abuse of seven female students by a priest in 1991 now claims that the Diocese of Brooklyn covered it up for more than a decade, allowing more girls to be abused.

Ms. Porcaro, 63, said that at the end of 1990, seven fifth-graders told her that Father Prochaski was sexually abusing them. Most were Polish immigrants whose families had been brought to America with the help of the priest, to whom they felt beholden.

She said she reported the abuse to the principal, a nun from the Sisters of the Holy Family order. She said the nun laughed and said, “Oh, everybody knows about Father Adam,” she recalled. “And I had tears in my eyes.”

The New York Times article from Sharon Otterman closes with the note that a fund for Brooklyn Diocese survivors has seen sixty settlements accepted, of seventy-six offers from two hundred-eleven claims.

Let us be clear:

… it was not until 2002 that the Brooklyn Diocese notified law enforcement about the allegations. That was the year American bishops passed the Dallas Charter, requiring that dioceses report all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to public authorities. By then, none of the allegations against Mr. Prochaski were within the statute of limitations for prosecution, the spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney said.

This is, by definition, rape culture.

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Image note: Composite — Details of frames from Attack on Titan, episode 6, “The World the Girl Saw”.

Otterman, Sharon. “23 Women Accuse Former Queens Priest of Abusing Them as Children”. The New York Times. 12 October 2017.

An Opportunity We Cannot Afford to Pass By

The Black Dot is a call for help, your call to action.

The point of the Black Dot Campaign is pretty straightforward:

One in four women in the U.S. has experienced severe violence at the hands of an intimate partner, yet asking for help is often far too dangerous for victims to even consider. That’s what inspired a new grassroots campaign that allows survivors to open up about their experiences without even having to say a word.

Domestic violence victims are most at risk for getting killed in the moment that they decide to leave their partners, Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told The Huffington Post in June. To help survivors signal to others that they need help, but are struggling to ask for it, a new initiative is encouraging victims to paint a tiny black dot on their hands.

The goal is for the black dot to serve as a subtle, yet urgent, message to agencies, relatives, friends, doctors and others that a victim is in need of services to help them escape the abuse.

Please read the rest of Eleanor Goldberg’s report on the Black Dot Campaign.

And please stop by the Black Dot Campaign Facebook page.

This is your chance to help. This is everyone’s opportunity to help. Tell your friends and neighbors. Tell your family. And when you see a Black Dot, please remember what it means.

And please …

please

… do not pass by. Do not walk away.

There is too much at stake.

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The Important Thing

WASHINGTON — NOVEMBER 17: U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the House Republican Conference leadership elections alone on Capitol Hill November 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest-serving Speaker of the House but is now scorned for losing control of the House to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This is the only thing you need to know about the spectacular awfulness accused of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert:

Jolene said she asked her brother why he never told anyone. “And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?'”

(Ross, Schwartz, and Capell)

This includes never.

And never includes the time before Mr. Hastert rose to lead the United States House of Representatives.

There will be continued scorn toward hypocrisy and his role in American sexual moralism, and when it comes to spectacular headlines accusing that a former Speaker of the House of Representatives is a serial sexual predator, there are certain things that might get lost along the way.

Jolene said she believes the abuse ended when Steve moved away after his high school graduation in 1971. Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995. She believes Hastert’s alleged actions irrevocably changed Steve’s life for the worse.

This is what it does. This is why it cannot be.

“And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?'”

And that is every day in these United States.

This is an awful scandal. It will be spectacularly horrible. But there are things about this story that were true and important before it ever happened, remain so now, and will continue as such after the headlines have passed.

And those things require address.

So, you know, if there’s one thing to remember from all of this, we should probably make it the really, really important one.

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Image note: Detail ― U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the House Republican Conference leadership elections alone on Capitol Hill November 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest-serving Speaker of the House but is now scorned for losing control of the House to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ross, Brian, Rhonda Schwartz, and John Capell. “Exclusive: Alleged Dennis Hastert Sex Abuse Victim Named by Family”. ABC News. 5 June 2015.

Important

Antonia Blumberg of Huffington Post explains the problem quite simply:

While many religious leaders have been vocal about abortion, same sex marriage and other social concerns, they have remained fairly quiet on one major issue: domestic violence.

While the study from LifeWay Research pertains specifically to Protestant clergy, it highlights some general issues within the domestic violence challenges facing Christian community leaders:

Protestant Clergy and Domestic ViolenceJustin Holcomb, co-author of Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence, said that victims of abuse often blame themselves. Hearing sermons about stopping domestic violence reminds victims that God cares about their suffering. And it gives them hope that God can deliver them from the evil of domestic violence.

Some abusers, said Holcomb, use scriptures like Malachi 2:16—which says God hates divorce in some translations—against their victims. He believes pastors can counteract that message.

“God says He hates divorce—He also hates the abuse of women,” Holcomb said.

LifeWay Research also found half of senior pastors (52 percent) don’t have sufficient training to address cases of domestic or sexual violence. About 8 in 10 (81 percent), say they would take action to reduce domestic violence if they had more training.

Just one of those things, you know? But this is important.

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Blumberg, Antonia. “Pastors Rarely Preach About Domestic Violence Even Though It Affects Countless Americans”. The Huffington Post. 29 June 2014.

Smietana, Bob. “Pastors Seldom Preach About Domestic Violence”. LifeWay Research. 27 June 2014.

The Strangest Phrase

“If you don’t want to include a graphic illustration of rape in a graphic novel about rape, that’s understandable. But I’d be interested to hear victims of sexual assault weigh in on what they believe a graphic representation of rape might look like, and I suspect that it wouldn’t be the jaunty exploding star that in 100% of the world’s comic strips denotes exaggeration for the purpose of humor.”

Mary Adkins

Three words: Rape education comics.

‘Nuff said?

Alright, then. Your turn.

Last week the Dallas Observer reported that Dallas County will print a series of graphic novels to teach kids in juvenile detention about rape. The Project on Addressing Prison Rape at American University, Washington College of Law is behind the comics, which are available in full on the project’s site.

Rape Ed TriptychA warning: they’re weird. Not just because you’re reading material designed to educate kids about rape, but because of the way in which the choice of form—a comic strip—seems to inherently turn what is a very serious thing into a lighthearted romp. This isn’t parody for the sake of stressing the weightiness of the issue; it’s not about placing a horrific phenomenon in a playful genre in order to highlight its grimness via juxtaposition. This is exactly what it purports to be: a set of traditional comic books (or graphic novels—same thing) with sexual assault plots. The panels where rape happens read: BAM!

If that isn’t already unsettling, here’s the other thing. The series conveys problematic messages like: you should be concerned whether being raped by someone of the same sex makes you gay; you should expect your superiors not to believe you when you report an assault; and even, ironically, you should expect to be raped if you wind up in juvenile detention.

So, yeah. Right. Your turn.

I have no idea what goes here; the (ahem!) “rape ed comics” have about them a spectral weight that makes it difficult to muster the courage to read through them.

So … no. There is no review or critique to go here, though Adkins’ consideration is worth a read. And, yes, ’tis true, “rape ed comics” is perhaps the strangest phrase I have heard in … er, yeah. The notion is transcendent.