Saturday, 23 March 2013

John Laws Interview With Victim of Childhood Sexual Assault

John Laws is used to controversy about his radio program interviews.  The current issue is about an interview with a 44 year old woman who was sexually assaulted by her male family members from the age of 6 to 18.  There is an outcry about Mr Laws asking the woman if she thought she was to blame in anyway and another remark about the male offenders "having a good time with you."  Whilst offensive to many people the remarks did not upset the woman who rang back later to say she was not offended.  We have to give survivors of childhood sexual assault and adult rape some credibility.  John Laws has been running a radio show for several decades.  People who listen and ring in know his approach. 
If the woman concerned felt the questioning was helpful then that is what it is. It is her recovery and her history.  She has to be believed about what was an acceptable question and not disempowered by professionals and others who think they know better.

7 comments:

  1. The woman does, of course, have the right to see the questions however she will. Individual survivors personally don't have to think it's acceptable though. I thought his statements were gross, insensitive and triggering, and the length of time that the feminist-baiting Mr. Laws has been running his show is quite immaterial. Calling it an "outcry" is somewhat patronizing to those of us who were offended; it begins to sound like the supporters of rape-culture who ridicule women whenever we stand up to it. I am not saying that this is what SECASA, an organization I respect, stands for, it's just a term of derision those fighting rape culture have heard too many times, like we are making a fuss over nothing.

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  2. Don't other survivors have the right to say that the line of questioning used by John Laws is inappropriate and supports a rape culture by perpetuating the idea that victims of sexual assault, regardless of their age, are provocative or somehow 'asking for it'?

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    1. This young woman, for instance, has a right to say it and did so in what I thought was a very moving article: http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/rapists-are-to-blame-for-rape-20130321-2ghxa.html

      She deserves credibility too.

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  3. People may not always say most appropriate things however It is important that the silence is broken around the issue of childhood sexual abuse. We know that the majority of victims never disclose or receive counselling to cope with the fallout from the abuse. As unconsidered as some of his questions and comments may have been the show reached many people who may now consider facing the past abuse and hopefully seeking help in that journey.

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    1. Right - agreed that victims need to be encouraged to reach out to and that programs that talk about it can help that happen. Let's just hope that Laws didn't add to a sense some victims already have that they'll be blamed and accused of being provocative.

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  4. There's a difference between a broadcast conversation and a private one. I'm very glad the woman wasn't hurt or offended. But that doesn't mean the questions asked were reasonable or acceptable. It gives weight to the sickening excuses made by abusers to act as if they were. There is no genuine question over whether any child deserved to be abused. Such questions are only asked in the context of excusing abusers or blaming victims. To have them asked by John Laws might have made them seem legitimate to his audience, which is damaging to all victims. A broadcast conversation has a wider impact than its effect on the participants, and that needs to be considered. We have every right to complain about this public treatment of a victim of childhood sexual abuse, even if she doesn't herself feel the need to complain. This is not undermining her right to her own reactions, just affirming our own right to react to a public broadcast which harms our own interests.

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  5. There is an outcry about Mr Laws asking the woman if she thought she was to blame in anyway and another remark about the male offenders "having a good time with you.
    Glyn Willmoth

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