Why Not Go to the Police?
October 30, 2019 9:18 PM   Subscribe

In Unbelievable and Know My Name, sexual assault survivors confront the profound injustices of the justice system. Unbelievable, released on Netflix in September, is an eight-episode drama based on the true story of an 18-year-old in Washington state who reported a rape, then recanted when police officers told her they were skeptical of her story. (She was only vindicated after her rapist attacked five more women.) Know My Name is a new memoir from Chanel Miller, formerly known as Emily Doe, whose victim impact statement was widely read on BuzzFeed after her assailant, Brock Turner, was sentenced to six months in county jail for sexually assaulting her while she was unconscious. Viewed as companion pieces, the series and the book make a powerful statement about the ways the justice system betrays its promises to protect victims, putting their own character and credibility on trial when they try to speak up about someone else’s crime.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (7 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this last month and told my aunt about it. We both can't say anything about it except, "Unbelievable!!"
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 6:00 AM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this. These stories remind me also of the Ghomeshi trial and what those women went through.

Have you seen the interviews Chanel Miller has given recently? What an impressive young woman. I am eager to read her book.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:39 AM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you want to feel really angry at the US Justice system and don't have the time or stomach for Unbelievable, there is an excellent and frustrating episode of This American Life called Anatomy of a Doubt that covers the same story.

I was glad that I listened without my daughter around (other than obvious content reasons) because I yelled the F-word at my car stereo a lot during this episode. One of the things that I learned from Metafilter is that not all crime victims react the same to trauma.
posted by Alison at 7:01 AM on October 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

It's linked in the first article, but just in case you missed it the Pro Publica/Marshall Project story that started the whole thing is both fascinating and horrifying to read. It was also the subject of this FPP. It amazes me how many rape accusations are blithely dismissed by law enforcement.
posted by TedW at 8:02 AM on October 31, 2019 [9 favorites]

I just published a novel about this, and an essay forthcoming. Even when everything goes "right" -- you're a "good" victim: a kid, a stranger, called the police, surrendered your body to strangers as evidence, everybody believes you and is sympathetic-- it's traumatizing. The rape itself and then everything that everyone else does to you "to help" is endlessly traumatizing. And that's if you're a "good" victim.

For every step away from a Puritan's POV of a victim, it gets exponentially harder. I blame no woman, no girl, no person who is sexually assaulted for keeping it to themselves. I'm forty-six years old, and I ended up in therapy for a rape that occurred when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, during the Kavanaugh hearings. Hearing what those people, primarily men, really thought about rape and its survivors, sent me into the worst tailspin of my life.

And I was a "good" victim. Perfect victim. Everybody believed me.

I think.
posted by headspace at 12:14 PM on October 31, 2019 [8 favorites]

It’s not only rape, it’s domestic violence. It’s how judges, cops, lawyers etc. ( both male and female ) treat women and children trying to escape abuse and violence. Men’s rights groups are basically a form of domestic terrorism. It’s like the ability to abuse, beat and rape women and children is part of the social contract for men, a perk if you will. It’s pretty much all societies, all religions and political philosophies, because damn near every culture is patriarchal, even phallacist.
It’s why Trump could get away with what he’s gotten away with and still get elected when everyone pretty much knows, and Congresswoman Hill gets drummed out of her job.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:59 PM on October 31, 2019 [8 favorites]

Unbelievable is some truly excellent TV. Be warned that the first episode, while not gratuitous, is tough going. Episodes two and beyond contain more positivity and are much easier to watch.
posted by nnethercote at 5:16 AM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

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