Francis Holland wrote the following in a comment explaining now deleted statements in his blog post:
There is NOTHING that Megan Williams or any person could do to deserve this sort of treatment, and do it is impossible to say that she, in any way, deserved what she got. [...] And yet I think about those horror movies when one practically screams at the screen, "Don't go back into the haunted house!" I think Megan went back into the haunted house, and that's when the vampires attacked her.
The logical flaw here is that Holland is basing his opinion of Megan Williams on a fallacy that many of us wish were a universal truth.
We wish we could always hear the music which tells the viewer, "Run!" so that we could sprint safely away before the dangerous situation or person is close enough to nab us, thus saving ourselves from trauma and maybe even death. Life is much less stressful if we believe that danger never comes at us without horror movie type warnings.
This is also the same reason bigots love to paint other racial groups as more dangerous than their own. A father doesn't want to think his pregnant daughter is at greater risk of death from that nice man she married than she is from the anonymous monster lurking in the dark corner of the parking ramp who can be identified instantly by skin tone. He wants to think he's helping her remain safe by lecturing her about going alone into the grocery store after dark.
Add to this wish the tendency to assume that others have at least the same amount of information (too often misinformation) and resources as we have about a case so that we judge alleged crime victims based on our projected version of their situation.
This is why defense spin is such an important part of many defense team's strategies. They want your first impression to be the one they craft for you. They want any other version of what happened to seem like a distortion of the truth even when that other version is a damning truth.
Too many people are foolish enough to treat certain real-life crimes as if they were as 2-dimensional as a horror flick where everyone knows that the monster is lurking on the other side of that door. The blame for ignoring obvious danger then falls too heavily on the victim who as in many horror movies seems to deserve what is done to her.
Sometimes there are elements in a situation that people can recognize if they know what to look for which are true danger signals. Unfortunately, many of the same people who scold women for getting into situations where they become victims will scold women for being paranoid when they take evasive action before the threat is undeniable and unavoidable.
"Not all men are rapists or sadistic monsters. Just because they ___ [followed you, or harassed you, or grabbed your arm to stop you from leaving, or made a violent threat in anger, etc.] doesn't mean men who do that should be treated as if they might really turn criminally violent."
Holland has imposed upon Megan Williams the Too Stupid To Live label which is given to fictional characters (mostly women characters) who take actions because the writer decides those actions are needed to move the plot forward and which the audience knows puts that character in greater danger.I don't know if he, and others who fall in the same trap, can learn to recognize and avoid it the next time the trap is laid out for him. If he doesn't then he's like that horror movie character who goes back in the haunted house.
From an anonymous comment I received about this case which sent me to a Charleston Daily Mail article entitled: Torture suspects sister says victim given chance to leave I was apparently supposed to believe a picture painted for me about this victim.
Williams was in black lingerie, with cuts on her body that were clearly infected.
"I couldn't believe someone was still alive in that shape," she said. "I don't know anyone who could have went through that and survived."
Christie Messer said she let Williams out of the bedroom. She gave her the keys to her car and told her to go to the car, but Williams refused to leave, she said.
"She said, 'I don't want to go. I love Bobby [Brewster].'
Messer said she told Megan she needed to go to the hospital to get treatment for the cuts on her leg.
Honestly, if I went to a house and discovered a woman in such bad shape that I'm surprised she's still alive, I'm going to call 911. I'm not going to offer that woman my car keys so this surprised-to-be-alive woman can go to the hospital for treatment. I'm certainly not going to expect someone that injured to be coherent enough to understand clearly what I'm saying.
How can Williams have truly been given a chance to leave as the headline asserts if it's a shock she's still alive?
She has as much chance as a coma patient has when she's given the chance to say no by a hospital employee intent on rape. Unfortunately, this claim of giving victims a chance to get away is a lie that gets believed on a regular basis.
The ugly truth is that it is safer for many people's view of the world to ask, "Why didn't she leave?" than to ask, "Why did someone do that to another human being?" because most of us don't really want a complete and honest answer to that second question.
The quote above seems to answer the first question ("I don't want to go. I love Bobby."), but it doesn't. Someone who has been tortured for days has likely been forced to make statements that pleased her torturers and may have been threatened with further violence, even death, if she dared to escape.
Labels: Violence Against Women