How To Undermine A Rape Victim 101

3 Feb

Trigger warning for talk of rape 

Preface the victim’s open letter about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father with a statement saying that he deserves the presumption of innocence. Always approach situations like this with the thought that the victim might be lying; remind yourself and others that the burden of proof is on her.

Insist on referring to the victim as the rapist’s “adopted daughter,” as if that mitigates what he has done. Using subtle language cues like this, imply that though it might be rape, it’s not really incest because the the rapist is not the victim’s biological father. Pretend that adoptive parents somehow feel differently about their children than biological parents do.

Like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, insist on your ability to differentiate between an artist and their art. As a spokesperson for the organization said, “The Academy honors achievement in film, not the personal lives of filmmakers and artists.” Tell yourself that many great artists have been problematic – for example, Picasso was an abusive womanizer, but you can still enjoy his paintings – and that a person’s behaviour should not influence whether or not we view their art as great. Perhaps you could even take this a step further and insist to yourself that a perpetrator of such violence could never make such wonderful art. Let the rapist’s popularly beloved films stand as a sort of character witness, proving that there is no way he could ever have harmed his own child.

If you have worked closely with the rapist, take a page from Cate Blanchett’s book and distance yourself from the accusations, pretend that it has nothing to do with you. Tell yourself that it’s a private family matter; your willingness to be friends with the rapist is certainly not a public statement either condoning his actions or dismissing the victim’s accusations. Make a statement similar to Blanchett’s, something like: “It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some resolution and peace.” This type of conflict is not at all convenient for your career or the image you’re trying to build for yourself.

Blame everything on the only parent the rape victim is able to love and trust. Accuse her of being the truly abusive parent; say that she was and is crazy with jealousy. Insist that she orchestrated the entire thing as an elaborate revenge plot. Paint the rapist as a victim who has had his relationship with his children destroyed by their monster of a mother. Pretend to be sympathetic to the victim, the poor girl whose mother has planted terrible ideas in her head. After all, this certainly worked for Woody Allen and his lawyer, who issued a statement saying: “It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.

Write a lengthy article about how we don’t know the other side, the rapist’s side, of the story. Construct an elaborate argument explaining why the victim is a liar, knowing or not. Use a multitude of circumstantial evidence not even a little bit directly related to the actual assault described by the victim to discredit her. For example, insinuate that the victim’s mother is a hypocrite because she testified on Roman Polanski’s behalf when he was accused of rape; pretend that that has any bearing on whether or not Woody Allen raped his daughter. Using every anecdote and half-truth that comes your way to cast doubt in your readers’ minds. This won’t be hard; they are looking for a reason, any reason, to doubt anyway.

Or, like Diane Keaton, you could refuse to issue a statement, hide your head in the sand, and hope that this will all blow over.

Do not treat the victim as if they are a person with agency and thoughts and feelings – instead, treat them as an intellectual exercise, their life a puzzle to be solved, their words an argument to be defeated. Do not imagine yourself in their place, what it must be like to write a letter about the abuse they’ve suffered at their rich and powerful father’s hands. Do not try to think about what it must be like to have the entirety of the Hollywood machine working against you, swaying the minds of the population against what you are saying. Do not picture the anguish you might feel at seeing scores upon scores of people trying to discredit you, trying to trip you up, trying to defend the man who raped you, the man they all love so very much.

Do not think about the message that this, your willingness to doubt, is sending to all of the people you know who have also been victims of rape. They almost certainly number far more than  you know, but try not to think about how your reaction might further convince them that sharing their story will only be met with derision and disbelief.

Tell yourself that this is not rape culture. Tell yourself that a knee-jerk reaction of you must be lying or remembering it wrong when faced with a victim’s accusations of rape is not a sign that our society is so very, very fucked up. Tell yourself that it’s rational and logical to want to know all sides of the story, though you never want to know the other side, the perpetrator’s side, when your house is broken into or your wallet is stolen or your child is hit by a car. Tell yourself that we can never know for sure what happened and since a man’s life can be destroyed by accusations of rape, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Do not think about the girl whose life was destroyed when she was seven.

Above all, never, ever, ever think about the ways that you might be complicit in this.


I stand with Dylan Farrow.

202 Responses to “How To Undermine A Rape Victim 101”

  1. ericaleemott February 9, 2014 at 1:18 am #

    You have no idea how much this touched my heart. Well said. Thank you.

  2. jovettearcher February 9, 2014 at 1:21 am #

    Good post. Coming and visit my blog too…

  3. Chenoa February 9, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    I appreciate your take on this subject and your tongue in cheek style to point at the unfriendly, misbelieving, or flat out ignoring -the-victim-stand that a few public people have taken on this case. Indeed it adds more hurt to the stack of pain and confusion that a rape victim experiences. I would say, it is quite one thing to question a child, to believe a child, or to understand the true experience that a child endured. And so at that time, as a child victim, her protective mother put allegations aside in order to further protect all of her children from WA. Ms Farrow did the exact right thing! Now as an adult, the young Dylan absolutely needs to be believed, can be believed and fully deserves to be believed. It is now, as an adult, that she has been able to unwind the history of her life and discover the source events for various adult aberrations in her psychology. Certainly a child cannot do this, cannot look to the future. There is tremendous research on the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse, and by the tale of her life story we can see how that research intertwines with her character, the specific things that have triggered her to be upset and confused, and the complete need to stand up for herself and cry fowl.

    The whole ‘innocent until proven guilty’ view on the perpetrator is a good one for the court of law, and for any vigilante people as well. But in these kinds of cases, it makes the victim a liar until proven a truth-teller. We can rise above. People often do not want to believe a victim of sex abuse, for to believe is to possibly visualize or feel the event really happening and a resulting sick and disgusted feeling. It is hard not to feel like puking when the truth sinks in. So we want to protect ourselves and stay up in our intellect, hold off on believing, wait for the jury to come back, let the jury decide. The problem with such a public case that is not being tried in a court of law is that the onus is now on the public to be that jury, and it is not fair to us really because we don’t have all the facts.

    But now we have the choice to look deeply into our hearts, and listen closely to a victim of sexual abuse, and question, what is really wrong here? This is but one case of many millions. What can we learn, how do we heal, how can we move on to protect our children from sick adults?

    Personally, because of the way WA coveted Dylan as a child, held her as a favorite and was not allowed to be alone with her, a topic discussed with their family therapist, and he took whatever opportunity he could to be alone with the child anyway, I call it incestuous. And then he later took sexual pictures of Dylan’s grown sister who had had some brain damage before being adopted by Mia, a teenager that Woody helped to raise as her mother’s lover for 12 years, and then proceeded to court and marry her, yes because of all of this, I call it incestuous behaviour. That he was not their biological father makes NO matter. It is completely sleezy, and unnatural.

    I’m with Dylan, and I’m with Mia and I’m with any other molested person and that person’s protector. I’m satisfied to know that Dylan has the strength and personal support to speak out in a public way. That to me is progress.

  4. rbroy01 February 9, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    This is an excellent post. I live in India and rape is passe. Whats new is ‘gang-rape’ where a group of guys kidnap you for the day or weekend and then gang-bang you till your lights are out. Then you are left on some street without any money or belongings to find your way back home.

  5. Nikohl Vandel February 9, 2014 at 7:41 am #

    if we get it out of our military, we can flip the rape culture overnight. we need a commitment of our commander in chief to eliminate it from there first, and immediately. #notanothervietnam

  6. zamanthaduanne91 February 9, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Reblogged this on My EMoTiONSz.

  7. saifuhot February 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on saifuhot and commented:
    Very true indeed

  8. mango1531 February 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you! Great post

  9. inspoetry February 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Rape and sin are the same. Both come from man’s need to gratify oneself. They do not care about the who will be hurt. Yet, there is an answer to Hollywood or anywhere but here mentality.

    Christ died for the sinner. In the Bible: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

    Everyone understands pain and hurt but only Christ can bear it and forgive one’s sin if he asks. Do not be afraid to ask.

    John 16:24
    Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

    Life brings many hardships but in Jesus said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

    Take heart, if you suffer from rape, abuse or any other kind of sin. Do not worry, Christ has you covered with his blood. A simple prayer reunites you to him.

    Pray: Lord, I am a sinner, forgive me and reunite me with you. I love you. Come into my heart. I look forward to living with you now to eternity. I love you in Christ, Amen!

    I am happy to share this with you. Christ is the answer. We are never too old to learn we have been created, loved and forgiven. I love you in Christ, Amen!

  10. sr41297 February 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm #


  11. Mary Wheeler Art! Gallery February 9, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    Didn’t we just give an AWARD to a Rapist at the Golden Globes?? Shame on them…and everyone who is in his movies. I boycott both.

  12. latryce00 February 10, 2014 at 3:08 am #

    Reblogged this on Suicide.

  13. curls17 February 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Reblogged this on Thoughts from this curly girl and commented:
    This is exactly what needs to be said about this.

    “Tell yourself that a knee-jerk reaction of you must be lying or remembering it wrong when faced with a victim’s accusations of rape is not a sign that our society is so very, very fucked up. Tell yourself that it’s rational and logical to want to know all sides of the story, though you never want to know the other side, the perpetrator’s side, when your house is broken into or your wallet is stolen or your child is hit by a car.”

    If you stand silent, you stand for a rape culture that brutalizes the victim. If you stand silent, you stand with those who have committed heinous acts.

  14. QuirkyBirdWords February 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Why must the victim be of most suspect?

    • jjwoolie March 1, 2014 at 12:52 am #

      This is a question I think more people should pay attention to. I was recently sexually assaulted, and every person – family, friends, even the police – asked me if I was sure of what had happened, if I had really not consented to the act of violence committed against me, if I really believed that I’d done nothing wrong and that my assailant had. I was treated like a liar, a slanderer. I tried to stand up for myself, and I was torn down by everyone I talked to about what had happened. I didn’t want many people to know, and at first I wasn’t even sure I wanted to report the incident because I was afraid that no one would believe me. I think that is the biggest problem right there, that I had to fear that I would not be believed. No person who has ever known me would call me a liar, a fabricator, vindictive, or in any way dishonest or cruel. They know me to pursue what is right and just within my life. Why then are they suddenly doubting my honesty? Because another person is involved that they also know?

      On another note, though related to the topic of other comments, I do not wish to spread my story far and wide in a way that will lead the world to convict this person who hurt me. He was my friend, the son of an upstanding leader within my church, and I had known him for many years. If I wanted him publicly crucified, I need only to post about it on Facebook or tell everyone that knows us mutually. I would, of course fear if that was my choice that people would take his side over mine, but I haven’t even considered giving them the option. I know that his actions are something he will have to live with, that he will be judged by the Creator when he leaves this world, and though the prosecutor determined, much like with Dylan, that my emotional state is too delicate to handle a trial (much to my outrage and disagreement), he will be judged. Therefore, I leave that judgment to God. I sought justice in this world, mostly, so that this man might find the help he needs within his mentality, his morality, to be able to never do it again to someone else. I wanted to save others, not condemn him. He deserve punishment, sure, but I’m not the one who gets to decide what is right and just. I have not yet forgiven him for what he has done to me, and I have daily reminders of the trauma, but I hope to one day forgive him, as I hope he one day asks for God’s forgiveness. With all that being said, I do not want his friends to abandon him. I don’t want his family to shun him. He needs support just as much as I do, and while not everyone we mutually know does know what he has done to me, I know that some of them do, and I have to trust that they will do what is right by us both. I have to believe that these people will take it upon themselves to urge him to seek the help he needs to overcome the demons inside him that would cause him to choose such an act.

      I guess my biggest thought, in all of this, is that it is not for people to abandon someone for making a mistake, no matter how big or small, if they really care about that person. Instead, they should reach out to help that person become better, do better, and not harm anyone again. There are far too many crimes, too many hurt people in this world to punish every person who ever does something wrong. If a person chooses to make their personal business public, whether famous or not, it is for them to deal with the consequences of those actions. I will not stop appreciating something good, whether it be art, music, athletic skill, or merely a random act of kindness no matter how small, just because that person may also have done something terrible. Just because a person may exude darkness, it does not mean that cannot also produce light. We, in life, must take the bad with the good, and that goes for every person as well. None of us is completely free from mistakes and sins, but that does not mean that we are wholly bad. Everyone deserves love and support, and we all will face a final judgment for the choices we have made. Let us not criticize each other, but show each other love. If it’s too late for our legal system to take action, or if they are unwilling, let us not take it upon ourselves to become judge and jury.

  15. capriciacollette February 10, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    Reblogged this on A Misfit Queen.

  16. sparkleslady February 11, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    Reblogged this on SparklesLady's Blog.

  17. janelorraine February 11, 2014 at 5:00 am #

    I work with rape survivors everyday, and hear victim-blaming statements all the time. This post is something everyone should read because we a long way to go to change rape culture. Thank you!

  18. April Lee February 11, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    Reblogged this on Modern Sex Culture and commented:
    I couldn’t have said it any better.

  19. C.J. February 11, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    Reblogged this on Warrior Princess.

  20. Jory McDaniel February 11, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    Reblogged this on Cogito Ergo Sum and commented:
    What the fuck did I just read? Maybe it’s the lack of sleep but this was… Well, all of my “What the fuck is dis?!” Reddit-esque knee jerk spit take.

  21. collinsbor February 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Wrecking Bull.

  22. laceymacpherson February 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Reblogged this on My sensible nonsense and inner workings of my brain box.

  23. doctorzulak February 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on The doctor is in. and commented:
    So I realize that I’m posting and reposting some pretty heavy stuff, but I’m a heavy kind of guy. If I hadn’t bought the wrong kind of steel wool, you’d have some light painting photos to break up this stuff about how to be a decent human being, but this is a good post, and goes over some important stuff that reflects what has been on my mind. Visit this article, visit this blog, it’s good stuff.

  24. Natural Born Observer February 11, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on naturalbornobserver.

  25. taycentineo February 14, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    Reblogged this on Life of Tay and commented:

  26. gennalindz February 15, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    Reblogged this on Frequently Awkward and commented:
    This is so important.

  27. linddykal February 16, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    I’m just some rando on the internet, but I believe Jordan.

  28. wcda1994 February 16, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Reblogged this on Wilo Can Do ANYting!! and commented:
    change is hard more hard when denying the truth!

  29. allisonmenshek February 18, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on allisonmenshek and commented:
    I as well stand with Dylan Farrow

  30. haridasgowra February 19, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Good writing!

  31. A.K.A. Margaret Welch February 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    Fantastic blog! It’s so disgusting how this has all been handled in the media. When a person is mugged nobody asks the victim if they wanted to get mugged. The victim doesn’t get blamed for being in a bad neighborhood and isn’t told he/she was asking for it. But when it comes to sexual assault that’s exactly what occurs. A women’s integrity is put on trial more often than the rapist is. It’s horrible and hopefully one day this won’t be the case.
    I stand with Dylan Farrow as well. #NoMore

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  33. pam March 28, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    never cared for his movies and i really don’t get it why hollywood reveres this pretentious d-bag. woody allen is soo not funny!!! (exclamation points for emphasis)

  34. cyanidecupcake April 22, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    Reblogged this on I eat sacred cows. They make the best hamburger!.

  35. lamj September 14, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    This is an excellent post which I almost completely agree with. Maybe I’m wrong but I do think you can separate the art from the artist and still enjoy Woody Allen films without feeling guilty because he was a terrible person. However it then follows that Woody Allen’s artwork should then bear no relevance to this case and should not factor in in his favour oreven be referred to at all. I don’t know enough about the case to know whether or not he is guilty and if he is he should be behind bars but that and the intrinsic artistic merit of his films are separate issues and shouldn’t influence each other. To use another example I think what Rolf Harris did was horrifying and that he belongs in prison where he is but that doesn’t stop me likeing the portrait of the queen he painted.

    Victim blaiming is awful, and it’s probably true that as many artists are bad people as good, but that doesn’t stop me appreciating the art itself, and the quality of the art similarly has no place in mitigating the wrongs done by it’s creators.

    • georgefinnegan September 14, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

      What you can pretty well rely on is that when a person comes forward to say that they were molested by someone when they were a child, they’re correct. People don’t make those things up, even though defense attorneys can easily make a child, or grown child, appear to be unbelievable. It’s particularly true if they say a parent molested them because no child wants to believe that their parent would do something like that.

  36. Rebekah Newman December 3, 2015 at 3:07 am #

    I have been trying to explain this to people for so long and nobody gets it. Its like nobody ever accuses a victim of lying for any other crime or accusation but when its rape its all ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Can’t people be rational and look at it. What do we get from saying some one raped us? Nothing. Shame. Humiliation. Why would we lie? Some do lie, but its a lot rarer than people think. There is no culture of false rape accusations. Yes it happens but its not an epidemic or a culture. But there is a culture of rape denial and victim disbelieving. Thank you for this.

  37. Cevdet Bartu SARAÇ December 14, 2015 at 3:42 am #

    So inspiring.


  1. Response to Dylan Farrow’s Open Letter | QuirkyBirdWords - February 10, 2014

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