Troiano, Epstein, & #MeToo
Updated: Oct 20, 2019
I'm originally from New Jersey, so my newsfeed has been blowing up the past couple days with the name: Judge James Troiano.
Troiano had ruled that a teenage boy deserved leniency for the alleged crime he committed because he was a "good college candidate." His crime? Raping and recording an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a house party and circulating the video with his friend group on social media. He captioned it: "When your first time is rape."
Today, Jeffrey Epstein's name is plastered everywhere. A hedge fund manager, Epstein had both power & wealth, which gave him the position to take advantage of underage girls and get away with it. After being trialed for similar crimes in the past (over 10 years ago), the judge ruled that he register as a sex offender and serve a little over a year in prison, of which he was able to leave 6 days a week to continue working at his job. He was able to achieve such leniency for his crimes because of the way the crime was framed: Epstein was soliciting prostitution from these girls instead of sex trafficking minors.
So who should we be angry at? We can be angry at the individuals who committed the crime, as we should. We can be angry at the judges who dismissed or downplayed their wrongdoings, which we have every reason to be. I could go on about how I feel about these people, but I think what I'm most angry about is our system that is failing the victims of these crimes.
We live in a culture that doesn't take sexual assault allegations as seriously as they should. We never hear about what happened to the victims and if they turned out all right because maybe their stories aren't as newsworthy. We are raising young minds that think consent is a joke, and showing them sexual misconduct doesn't prevent them from enjoying once-in-a-lifetime opportunities---that they won't be denied those opportunities because they come from good families or are projected to be successful individuals one day. We value lives based on how much they can profit society, preserving the untapped potential of predators, rapists, and pedophiles and saying, "Well, what if they can become something great one day?"
But how often do we ask that same question for the person who survived that assault? Who went through therapy and counseling to work through their post-traumatic stress disorder from rape? How often do we think about the long-term mental and emotional impact that survivors carry with them from an experience that their perpetrators simply walk away from? How often do we worry about whether their life will be ruined? Why have so many survivors of childhood sexual abuse reported feeling fearful of telling someone about what was happening to them?
We are failing the people who really need support. We should be showing them that there is a way out, providing the resources for them to do so and passing the laws that help make them feel safe again.
I've compiled some sources where you can learn more about these issues:
• Me Too Movement - https://metoomvmt.org/ - offers some great toolkits for educating about subjects like masculinity, grooming, black churches & sexual violence
• Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) - provides overview of sexual assault / violence, resources to cope, and opportunities to volunteer / get involved -https://www.rainn.org/
• For Philly residents: Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) - Philly's only rape crisis center; offers resources for victims, opportunities to volunteer - https://www.woar.org/
• Jill Tolles' TED Talk - Finding courage to talk about child sexual abuse -
• Harish Iyer's TED Talk - Being a survivor of male child sexual abuse - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dR_yh-9jyU
• The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis - guided workbook for healing for childhood sex abuse survivors
• The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Besser van der Kolk - offers comprehensive view of trauma from a psychiatrist who specializes with sexual assault / rape
Sexual violence may never end one day, but the #MeToo movement has made great strides for us. And for all the critics that claim people fabricate stories---it's true, people do. (However, evidence demonstrates that the prevalence of false accusations is low, between 2-10%: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21164210) But both you and those people are part of the problem. It's not about highlighting the liars. It's about empowering those who have a story and giving them a platform to speak up.