Tag Archives: sexual abuse

As a human being, seeing all these sexual assault cases in the news lately is… disheartening to say the least.

C’mon, guys, how hard is it to keep yourself to yourself? I mean, you literally have to do nothing in order to avoid being one of these creeps.

And they’re guys we’re supposed to be able to trust. Look at Bill Cosby. I’m not gonna go into the arguments about whether or not he’s really guilty—that’s a moot point by now. The image he projected is tarnished, and that’s a damn shame, because I was a fan of his. I still think he’s one of the funniest comics out there. His talent for taking everyday things and showing them to us in a slightly different way to make them funny (think of his brain damage routine when it comes to kids, or the quip about men doing a lot of work to avoid working) was practically off the charts.

Who knew he had this dark side?

I certainly never suspected.

And that’s part of the problem. I mean, look at most of these guys: they look and act respectable in public. But get them in private with someone who’s maybe star-struck to be in their presence, and they take advantage of that power and abuse it.

Really? You couldn’t maybe, I don’t know, be a positive influence for them?! Why is it you’d rather be a horrible memory than a cherished one? W.T.F. Is. Wrong. With. You?

I’ve never understood that mindset. Yes, I’ve looked at women and said, “Whoa.” I’m human, and I’m not perfect. But the true differences show immediately: I don’t act on what I think (which is appreciation, not mentally raping them) and never have, and the thought of molesting a woman in any way doesn’t enter my mind. More to the point, if I were to see a man doing such a thing—not likely since 1) I don’t associate with men who would do such a thing, and 2), these degenerates generally don’t do this kind of thing in front of other people—I would do something about it.

I say all this to make it manifestly clear that I don’t defend these creeps in any way, and that I am… I don’t even know a strong enough word to convey my feelings.

But here’s the thing: human nature being what it is, I fear witch hunts. History has multiple examples of this happening, from the real Salem witch hunts (as an example) to the House Un-American Activities Committee and who knows how many others.

Let’s take the latest (as I write this and am not looking at Facebook) example: Matt Lauer. Newscaster for NBC. Trusted talking head to many. Exposed for sexual misconduct. Looks like a clean, respectable guy, regardless of whether you agree with his politics or not (I have no idea what they are, so don’t ask).

Cue the usual chain of events: Accusers come forward. There’s outrage on Facebook. Lauer is convicted in absentia before the news has reached all the corners of the earth.

Do you see what’s happening there? And not just with Lauer. There’s Roy Moore. Al Franken. And, unfortunately, so many more. In each case, even if they’re not convicted in the media (who are always careful to add the word alleged to their headlines), they are on FB so quick it spins your head. Kessel Run in twelve parsecs, anyone?

No, it’s not funny. None of this is. As I took great pains to point out, I have no mercy for these guys—if they’re convicted. But to convict them before they get to court… well, that way lies lynch mobs and vigilante justice. Something we always have to guard against, for sure.

But here’s the thing: to continue with my example, let’s say the Matt Lauer thing goes to court, and it’s clearly shown he was innocent. What then? His reputation is already besmirched because we’ve convicted him in the People’s Court of Social Media. He can’t get a job doing anything remotely like he was doing when NBC fired him sight unseen. Because the People’s Court of Social Media never closes. It’s open 24/7, and there’s no lack of people out there who will disbelieve any amount of evidence they’re shown (witness Flat Earthers, if you doubt).

Innocent until proven guilty is one of the most important cornerstones of our judicial system. Yes, I know the government is just as guilty of breaking this standard as anyone. But maybe it’s time we reminded them of the standards and stood up to that kind of behavior.

This great American experiment will never be perfect, and we need to stop expecting it to be. The idea behind our system is if you don’t like the way something is done, change it. That’s how we abolished slavery, despite it initially being an intrinsic part of our economy. People stood up and said, “Hey, we’ll do without some luxuries to give these people their rights.” And they were correct to do so.

That’s the power of a Constitutional Republic versus a Democracy. We are supposed to be the former. If you study the history of the Abolition, you’ll see that one of the factors influencing the abolishment of slavery was the jury trial: jurists refused to convict runaway slaves despite it being the law of the land that they should do so. Notice I said jurists, not judges. Judges are not supposed to legislate from the bench. They are supposed to be independent, objective referees. In our system, though, members of the jury have the right to refuse to convict if they see the crime as being immoral.

A modern example of this would be some poor sap who’s been convicted for possessing a dime bag of pot. Exonerate him, make more room for these predators preying on women and scarring them for life. They’ll get really special treatment when they get inside.

Look, I will never advocate for light sentences for these guys. Violating a woman’s right to her own body… no words for how wrong that is. I have a wife and a daughter, and the thought of anyone doing that to either of them—or to any other woman I know or don’t know—is repugnant. I don’t get why someone would want to be that way, but that’s why I write crime fiction—to attempt to understand these people (though I probably will skip these guys).

But neither will I condone kangaroo courts or lynch mobs, and neither should you. Because the next person could be you.


The Perfect Victim

PerfectVictim_Front-200As a general rule, I don’t care much for psychological thrillers. They move at too slow a pace to earn the moniker thriller for me. We see lots of things engineered to endear us to the protagonist, but the action is a bit glacial for my taste. Plus, so many of them seem built around a premise that makes me want to take the protagonist by the collar and shake them, yelling into their face, “Can’t you see what the f&@k, is going on?!”

The Perfect Victim starts out just that way. Mary Brock is a single mother of an eight-year-old named Michael. Her best friend Anne “buys” her a deputy sheriff at a charity auction. He’s a little over six feet tall, slim, has wavy blond hair, and goes by the name Billy Joe Wilkins. Billy Joe promises Mary the perfect date.

Almost immediately, though, ominous signs begin appearing. Billy Joe calls her every night at home, every day at work. This last is more problematical because she works at a credit union where most of the employees are single mothers like herself, and the credit union isn’t exactly the gem of employers. Personal calls are strictly forbidden.

Too, Billy Joe doesn’t seem to get that dating for a single mother is tough. She’s on a very limited budget—at the book’s beginning she’s wrestling with her son wanting Nike Airs while she has to decide which clothes she can afford to wash this week—and can’t just take off on a whim, as Billy Joe seems to want her to do.

As the book progresses, these signs from Billy Joe become even more ominous, and it is quickly evident that he’s a controlling, abusive, dangerous man who uses his authority as a law enforcement officer to give him personal advantages in his quest to, for all practical purposes, own Mary while getting her to get rid of her son, who he refers to as “the kid.”

And now we arrive at the point that frustrates me about psychological thrillers: why can’t the protagonist see what’s happening? For me, it’s like the old joke about slasher movies: if you’re alone, in the dark, and weird things have been happening, why in the world are you investigating that noise? Why are you going up those stairs? For that matter, why’d you come out here camping in the first place?

The difference in The Prefect Victim is this: Mary finds a dark spot in her that responds to Billy Joe’s domineering ways. She likes the rough sex, likes it when he takes control, bringing her to the point where she’s afraid for her life, then treating her as if she’s a china doll that’ll break at the lightest touch. It seems that, when he perceives he’s frightened her, he backs off, reassures her it’s all fun and games.

With every mercurial rise and fall of Billy Joe’s temperament, Mary finds herself riding the same pattern of crests and troughs, a small boat on a large and violent ocean. She sees the problems but finds herself helpless to change what’s happening. He’s a complete and total ass, but the sex is like nothing she’s ever experienced before and is afraid she never will again. Does that make her shallow? Or does it make her human, just like the rest of us?PamelaFoster-200

If I go any farther, I risk revealing some spoilers, so let me wrap it up this way: by the time you reach the end of Pamela Foster’s The Perfect Victim, you may find yourself wondering what you’d do in a similar situation, and if you’d go down the same dark paths Mary finds herself having to follow.

Because, in the end, what makes us human and vulnerable also lets us win in some horrible situations.