In a sexist society that would soon decide that bragging about groping women is not a disqualification for the Presidency, 51-year-old David Mueller was given the opportunity to meet, greet and take a photo with 23-year-old Taylor Swift before her concert. Although they had never met before, Mueller believed he had the privilege to put his hand under her skirt and grab her bottom. Taylor is a talented, intelligent and successful woman but to Mueller and many other men, her value is limited to her beauty and body parts. He failed to consider that courage is another one of her virtues.
He expected to get away with this outrageous violation because groping, rape, domestic violence and other similar despicable crimes are the most under-reported crimes in the United States and most other countries. As a society these life-altering crimes are most often committed by men against women and children. We find excuses not to believe the victims that are an important reason the crimes are so common. According to research from the CDC one quarter of our children will be sexually abused, most often by a miscreant they know, by the time they reach 18. This country and most others turn our heads instead of protecting our children. A recent pilot study found custody courts disbelieve 94% of child sexual abuse reports although less than two percent are deliberately false. One of Jerry Sandusky’s victims was asked why he didn’t report Sandusky’s abuse sooner and explained he didn’t think he would be believed. These sexual and physical assaults committed by the worst predators often lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering; a large variety of illnesses from the stress; crime; suicide and still more abuse.
That was the context when Taylor Swift met Mueller and why he had good reason to expect to get away with his crime. He did avoid criminal prosecution because Taylor and her family did not want to go through a criminal process that in sexual assault cases more often focuses on the victim than the perp. But Taylor is a courageous young woman who immediately told people about Mueller’s crime and they shared the information with his employer. Mueller lost his six figure job as a radio DJ.
Mueller had the audacity to sue Taylor as if she caused him to lose his job. She decided to stand up for all women who are attacked and abused by entitled men. She counter-sued Mueller for his sexual assault and promised to give any money she recovers to charities working to protect women. When his attorney used the blame-the-victim tactic of blaming Taylor for Mueller being fired; Taylor told him the truth that every offender and every public official should know. Mueller’s heinous actions were the reason he was fired!
Supporting the Abuser Ezekiel Elliott
Dallas Cowboys star running back, Ezekiel Elliott physically assaulted his intimate partner, Tiffany Thompson causing a number of documented bruises and injuries. Nevertheless he continues to deny responsibility for his domestic violence. The NFL Players Association and Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones are defending Elliott from the six-game suspension imposed by the NFL. Those defending this latest egregious assault on a woman are denying reality and seeking even more tolerance for men’s abuse of women.
Male supremacists and their supporters seek to prevent accountability by labeling any assault as “he-said-she-said.” This automatically means that the actual facts cannot be determined at least to a high enough degree of certainty. In other words an abuser can never be punished as long as he denies his offense. This bizarre construction seems to be limited to bad behavior by men against women.
The prosecutor decided not to bring criminal charges, but told the NFL that he believed Ms. Thompson. Criminal prosecutions of domestic violence are treated as difficult because there are rarely outside witnesses; proof must meet the beyond a reasonable doubt standard; men are given more credibility; and law enforcement, as in this case often fail to gather all available evidence. The chance of prosecution is further limited because district attorneys are often more concerned with their batting averages especially against a wealthy defendant who can afford aggressive defense attorneys. Despite all the advantages abusive men are given, men in my batterer classes and many others constantly claim that all a woman has to do is complain and they are in jail.
The NFL did a thorough investigation that turned up substantial evidence the prosecutor failed to uncover. The survivor not only told her story, but discussed it with family and friends contemporaneously and took pictures of her injuries. The NFL was able to confirm the pictures were taken at the time of Elliott’s alleged assault and doctors confirmed the injuries were consistent with the assaults reported by Tiffany. Elliott attempted to explain the injuries that clearly occurred while he was with his girlfriend by concocting alternate theories about the cause of her injuries. The problem for Elliott is that his theories could not have caused the actual injuries based on the review by medical doctors who were consulted.
Incredibly, even while the NFL was investigating his abusive behavior, Elliott continued to demonstrate his desperate need for accountability. The NFL reviewed video of a parade during which Elliott pulled down a woman’s shirt and grabbed her breast. Nevertheless, the NFLPA and Jerry Jones continue to pretend no suspension is appropriate. Presumably Elliott’s behavior is tolerable.
I can understand that DeMaurice Smith, the Director of the NFLPA wants to support his players. On many occasions the NFL has mistreated players so this is an important issue. I also understand that Jerry Jones wants to give his team the best chance to win the Super Bowl; but some things are more important.
They are not really helping Elliott because the continued leniency response will only cause his behavior to escalate and perhaps someone will die. Where do Mueller and Elliott get the idea that their behavior can possibly be acceptable?
This is why the collusive actions of Jones and Smith are so reprehensible. Every day I hear more unspeakably cruel stories of entitled men ruining the lives of women and children. The stories are even more painful because we know how to prevent most of these crimes. It has been done in communities like Quincy, Nashville and San Diego. It is supported by good scientific research.
Taylor Swift provided an example of the integrity and courage needed to end our tolerance of men’s abuse of women and children. We need her inspiration to take back our communities not only from the Muellers and Elliotts, but also from the Smiths and Joneses.
Domestic Violence Writer, Speaker, and Advocate
Barry Goldstein is one of the leading domestic violence authors, speakers, advocates, and a frequent expert witness.