Friday, December 29, 2006

Rite Of Passage Myths Hinder Justice For Boys Victimized By Women

Houston Chronicle (you now need to login to see article, try this link to a cached version of the story.

Shifts in the legal system and public opinion have made it easier to prosecute women who molest boys in their pubescent years, experts say. And cases continue to draw public attention. But those who work closely with victims such as Diana's grandson say rite-of-passage myths still make it hard for many, including jurors, to sympathize with older boys in such cases, who are also less likely to tell parents or police about abusive relationships with older women.

[...] Pam Hobbs, who heads the children's court services program in Harris County district courts, said she's seen police and prosecutors taking underage boys' allegations more seriously in the past decade. Potential jurors, though, are another matter.

[...] When [Richard] Gartner [a psychologist who works with male sexual abuse survivors] started talking to fellow psychologists about the subject in the early 1990s, he said, he got a lot of "blank stares." People thought he was exaggerating the problem. Now, there are national organizations, conferences and online listserves dedicated to the topic.

This continued belief in a dangerous myth is no surprise to me since the successful prosecution of any type of sex crime can be derailed by any number of dangerous myths which allow sexual predators to be seen as people who haven't done anything clearly criminal. These myths are designed to prevent victims from speaking up and to prevent people from believing once the victim does speak up.

Besides being useful to sexual predators, these myths are useful to people who want the illusion that there isn't a problem. If they refuse to see the problem then the problem doesn't exist anywhere near them or theirs.

Only it doesn't work that way.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post


At May 20, 2007 7:35 AM, Blogger Marj aka Thriver said...

Marcella: Thanks for including this post in our blog carnival against child abuse. This reminds me so much of my experience with my mother, who was married to a pedophile who not only molested her own daughters, but also molested many students at the high school where he worked. My mother knew about those high school girls and was actually jealous of them and referred to their molestation as "affairs" with her husband! People can certainly twist things...and these twists, denials and minimizations become the myths that thwart protection, advocacy and justice.


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