Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Roman Polanski: Victim/Victimiser?

“These are unfamiliar feelings; our modern world does not invite us to treat anybody as nuanced. People are heroes or villains, victims or victimisers; sometimes neither, but never both.”

While I acknowledge the truth in the above statement, I am troubled by the invitation to feel sympathy for the man who drugged and sodomised a child. Maybe if our culture was different, and rape was taken seriously, if rapists were held accountable for their crimes and we as a people were disgusted by rape, maybe then I could feel differently.

The fact is, the interests of perpetrators are often prioritised more highly than their victims. Case in point- Steubenville. Media coverage of the two young men found guilty of raping their classmate included emotional footage of the perpetrators crying and embracing their families while reporters lamented their “bright futures” and all that they had lost. They were to serve ONE YEAR maximum in jail. For raping a young woman and destroying her life in the process.

Yet the victim remains invisible, the media does not report on the damage done to her and the impact this serious crime has had on her mental and emotional health, her relationships or her ability to function. This is what is also happening here.

Roman Polanski groomed a child for sex, then drugged and raped her. To avoid taking responsibility for his actions, he fled the country and has not come back. I don’t care if his films “filled with beauty and humanity”, he’s a child rapist. Why are we so concerned with hearing these sob stories of abusers to the detriment of the victims?

Victoria Coren clarifies that Polanski’s past doesn’t excuse his crimes, but in once again painting the picture of the perpetrator as a damaged soul (who happens to make quality movies) our attention is once again being shifted away from the victim.

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