Writer’s Note: I’m sure my essay will cause lots of controversy (because of my views), but I believe we must discuss these issues in order to try to find some common ground on the area of sexual assault when justice is no longer possible or never sought. (Justice=criminal justice)
Timing and Motive Matters
In my opinion, it’s time for us to take a step back to examine the timing and motive of sexual assault allegations, especially high profile allegations. Sexual assault allegations never end well for either party involved. Women and men making the allegations can blow up their lives by exposing such horrible, humiliating details of abuse, rape, or sexual harassment, or stalking. Men and women on the receiving end of such allegations can have their lives and livelihoods ruined regardless of whether there is proof, and regardless of whether or not the allegations are true.
I have been thinking about this since the Brett Kavanaugh — Dr. Blasey-Ford hearings, but the sexual assault allegations made by Dr. Vanessa Tyson about Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax kind of brought the importance of timing and motive home for me in high profile cases.
Who victims tell, when they tell, why they tell, and even timing of a disclosures matter.
Timing and motives of sexual assault are extremely important, yet we haven’t taken the time to consider these two areas enough. I say this because, for some victims of sex crimes, it appears they are triggered more by an alleged perpetrator’s sudden success (although no one really suddenly rises to the top of their career field).
When it comes to some of the latest high profile sexual assault allegations, when a woman discloses an old allegation of sexual assault without making an attempt to seek justice even after years or decades after the incident (after all, a sexual assault allegation is a crime), I believe it’s absolutely fair for the public to question timing and motives of those allegations.
High Profile Sex Crimes Bother Me — A Lot
These types of sexual assault allegations really bother me, because they have no evidence and they are never clear. Let me say for the record, I believe the victim, although I feel like I believe her because I’ve been a victim not because she’s given me any reason to trust her over the Lt. Governor.
I also believe Justin Fairfax as much as I hate to — only because he hasn’t given me a reason not to believe him. In the meantime, I just have to believe two people, the victim and the accused. I felt the same way about Kavanaugh until he opened his broflake mouth and he got a White kid glove criminal/background investigation. This shit is complicated.
It’s always complicated when sexual assault cases are tried in the court of public opinion. I would prefer not being put in such an awkward situation as I’m not a party to the matter, and my opinion is not needed — nor does it matter. But since I am party to this allegation since the victim decided to share her story voluntary with the Washington Post, I need to talk about it my issues with this particular case and the reasons for them.
My Issues With Tyson’s Disclosure
Sexual assault allegations are always problematic when there is no evidence because before the case plays out in a criminal or civil setting (when and if this is possible), it usually plays out in the court of public opinion first. The sexual assault allegation made by Dr. Vanessa Tyson against Lt. Governor Fair is extremely troubling to me — for a few different reasons.
Having served as an executive director of a sexual assault center and children’s advocacy center, I am quite familiar with the recruiting and training of volunteers, trauma-informed care, privacy rights, the collection of evidence, and most importantly the federal an state laws pertaining to sexual assaults, statute of limitations, etc. Dr. Tyson was a sexual assault advocate prior to her allegations. She knows the drill well. And even if she chose not to make an official report of the incident with the appropriate authorities, she also likely knew any and all options and alternatives available to victims because she’s worked in the field.
I have a huge issue with this case because feminism has conditioned us to trust all women all the time, and we must believe them all the time too — even when there is no evidence — even if she didn’t report her sexual assault — even when the case hasn’t be tried in a court of law. The type of allegation levied by Dr. Tyson falls into this category.
What Happened To Justice
It seems being believed has somehow replaced justice. It makes me feel uneasy. The two are not the same, and we should be slower to judge alleged perps and stories of victims, I believe. While I’m happy women are being believed more — what are our plans to address the problem of women reporting old allegations of sexual assault? It’s a problem we don’t talk about enough.
If victims are going to tell their stories (to many women it’s a “story,” but what’s really happening is that a woman is alleging a sex crime occurred) when perps are high profile, should we begin to examine more closely whether or not disclosures are about telling stories and justice, or payback and destroying the perpetrators who have moved on with their lives as so many male perps do?
I say yes.
My issue with the allegations made in Tyson’s case, just like in Blasey-Ford’s case, is that both women waited until the men in question were getting ready to be elevated to positions of power — which seemed to trigger them — in a sort of vindictive way almost. Neither woman sought justice within the criminal justice system, ever. They seemed to have wanted a type of vigilante justice — the kind that wants revenge for fucking up their lives if we are to believe the allegations were true.
Is a victim going to a newspaper to spill the tea on an alleged perpetrator really justice? Who does this type of reveal help besides the newspaper? Are these women really better off after the reveal their traumas? Because to me, it seems the men always bounce back move on to the next position of power anyway, unscathed. The women are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and their tattered reputations. What does this method prove?
Another question I have is if repaying a vendetta isn’t the real deal for some high profile disclosures, then why don’t accusers file civil suits for their traumas before these men were about to assume new positions of power if/when the statute of limitations prevented justice from being served?
I’m finding myself questioning motivations more and more these days. I’m tired of feminist telling me how to think and to believe everything. Sometimes, ladies — our hearts and motives are not pure!
The Words That Cause Me To Question Motive
The accuser indicated in her letter published in the New York Times that she’s worked as a volunteer with sexual assault advocate, which meant she knew the ropes. Tyson’s own words:
“I did not speak about it for years, and I (like most survivors) suppressed those memories and emotions as a necessary means to continue my studies, and to pursue my goal of building a successful career as an academic. At the time, I found this horrific incident especially degrading given my regular volunteer work at a local rape crisis center.”
This paragraph was a lot to unpack. I’ll let you marinate on it.
The Difference Between Blasey-Ford and Tyson
I found striking differences in how the two allegations came to light. The differences didn’t settle with me well.
The main difference between the Blasey-Ford allegation and Tyson’s allegation is that Blasey-Ford sought justice. Blasey-Ford’s letter originally submitted to her local Congressional representative was somehow leaked to the media, and then disclosed (with her blessing) to the public after the story was corroborated. In any event, Blasey-Ford’s method of approaching her representative in person and via writing, in my opinion, was similar to going to the police. She made an official record via the appropriate channels to make her grievances known. Blasey-Ford told the people who were responsible for employing the federal judge — not the media.
As a result, Blasey-Ford was able to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee where she submitted herself to a half-ass, limited FBI investigation (which was foiled by the President and his men), in an effort to seek justice and expose an alleged rapist. Although she wasn’t successful, we all can see the efforts made to secure justice for the alleged sex crime.
Tyson’s story is very different. In 2017 (about the time Fairfax was going to run for Lt. Governor I suppose), aides to a prominent Democratic Virginia congressman, Bobby Scott, said that the Tyson told him a year ago that she had made an allegation of sexual assault against Mr. Fairfax. The two had been friends for at least 10-years prior to the allegation.
Furthermore, Dr. Tyson told Congressman Scott that she had made an allegation of sexual assault against Mr. Fairfax while giving Mr. Scott notice that she had given his name as a character reference to The Washington Post, which was investigating the allegation.
Additionally, The New York Times reports in December of 2017, she reached out to a friend at The Washington Post, which has said it declined to run the story in part because it was unable to corroborate her account. This is where the story starts stinking for me!
This story has so many holes and so many problems, it causes me to question Tyson’s motives. Why go to the newspaper, and why this particular newspaper? Why didn’t you allow your friend to guide you through the proper legal channels to secure justice? What was she hoping to accomplish with publishing in the WaPo? Telling your story is one thing, but what is motivating this particular victim to disclose her story — the way she’s chosen to disclose it — and when it’s disclosed are important too.
I have an issue with all of the above, although I understand victims of sexual assault often take unusual methods to resolve their need for closure. Tyson being a Black woman further complicates this for me. She’s a beautiful sister with motives I now must question because of her own words.
Allegations, when made in this manner, gives the appearance victims with high profile alleged perps are seeking retribution more than they are seeking justice. Again, I absolutely believe Dr. Tyson had a bad encounter with Justin Fairfax. I believe something happened.
But I also have an issue with her method and I question the purpose. She’s a sexual assault advocate, so she knows the drill. Do we give her a pass on this fact and excuse her method? She should know how to get justice if justice was what she really wants, correct? Is anyone else concerned?
And if you are, can you say it without getting your damn head chewed off by feminists?
Because of the gaps and details provided, I’m forced to now assess her motives. This part bothers me the most. I should never have to question the motives of a victim, but in this case (like many others) I must.
I feel it’s important for women to have these discussions in the era of #MeToo, because sometimes our motives and methods for disclosure aren’t pure. Using the media for justice really impedes the road for justice for future victims. Especially in cases where there were no police reports or criminal/civil proceedings, there were no witnesses at the time of the incident, and where the statute of limitations have expired.
The Method Matters
I think we women need to evaluate how we seek justice as well as our motives. If you’ve spent any time in the sexual assault realms as an advocate or in management, you clearly understand how the piercing/roving eyes of the media can make a break a case sometimes. Local journalists aren’t always concerned with corroborating stories or facts as they are printing a sensational story. Furthermore, unless a sexual assault advocacy center has a great relationship with crime beat reporters, going to the media can be a nightmare. You can tell them something and they will print something totally contrary and stick one shitty quote from you — screwing up a case, causing the police detectives to fall out with you, etc.
The media is not the place to seek justice or to tell your story. Any advocate, police detective, or prosecutor will tell a victim this. Victims learn quickly to talk after you have achieved justice if that’s even possible.
Sometimes, things aren’t clear. I just want to put it out into the atmosphere in case there are women like me who tend to look at the evidence to make an assessment in addition to simply believing the victim. At times, there won’t be any evidence. And when there isn’t evidence, I don’t feel like I should be pressured or compelled to believe a victim simply because she’s a woman and simply because she’s Black.
Having been a victim who did not disclose abuse, I don’t think anything could drive me to just go to the media to disclose my abuse unless it was a case like the Catholic church sexual abuse case. Having been an advocate and understanding the law, evidence collection, reporting, etc. — I would damn sure make sure I had that, even if I decided not to press charges. I have that right. Having served women who have falsely accused young men of color, I’m extra cautious to not casually take the word of any woman without more evidence. I’ve seen plenty of crocodile tears. Having sat with victims in court and fought with prosecutors to present case to the grand jury — I know what justice or a day in court looks like.
Sexual assault is a serious, life-altering crime, and sexual assault allegations are serious, life-changing allegations. What happens before, during, and after the assault allegations are made matter.
Timing and motives matter.