Feminist Campus: I Believe Dylan Farrow

The following is an excerpt from the post published on Feminist Majority Foundation’s “Feminist Campus” blog.  Click here for the full post.

There are numerous problems with [Woody Allen’s] story, however.  For starters, many of his explanations are simply untrue.  The Yale-New Haven medical testimony that Allen cites was rejected by Judge Wilkes as unreliable, and was not accepted by the Connecticut state prosecutor who commissioned it; the panel which submitted the testimony consisted of two social workers who never testified themselves, and a pediatrician who signed off without having met Dylan Farrow.  In addition, though he says he willingly took a polygraph test, Allen actually refused to take one administered by the state police, and the one he took was taken by his legal team and was not accepted as evidence by the state.  Allen may not have been tried, but the prosecutor publicly stated that he had probable cause to charge Woody Allen, but did not do so because the trial would have caused Dylan Farrow undue emotional harm.

Before I even read that background, however, I believed Dylan Farrow.  I believe Dylan Farrow because my experience working with survivors of sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse tells me that we should believe survivors when they come forward.  I believe Dylan Farrow because to come forward with allegations, in a society that rejects and punishes survivors of sexual violence, requires bravery and conviction.  I believe Dylan Farrow because when we as a society refuse to accept the testimonies of survivors, we let perpetrators get away with abuse.  I believe Dylan Farrow because there are thousands of Dylan Farrows out there who are too scared or feel too powerless to come forward the way she did.


~ by Randi Saunders on February 13, 2014.

5 Responses to “Feminist Campus: I Believe Dylan Farrow”

  1. I believe her too. Thanks for this.

  2. “Before I even read that background, however, I believed Dylan Farrow.”

    Not too long ago, juries in the South would convict black men on very little evidence. Because, if the accuser is white, why would they lie?

    Why would Dylan Farrow lie?

    • Your argument is “the South was racist so we should never believe or support survivors of sexual assault”? Do I really need to explain why that’s a bad argument?

      I will anyway.

      In the South, those cases would be prosecuted and the accused convicted primarily on hearsay. Women were incentivized to engage in false accusations because of the stigma of interracial relationships, and while I’m not excusing those false reports, that’s not really the issue at hand, is it? Authorities estimate that only about 2-4% of ALL reported sexual assaults are false claims, on par with every other major crime.

      But before you make your next response, let’s look at the facts of THIS case: because Dylan Farrow isn’t the one who reported her assault to the police, and neither is her mother. Her doctor, a mandated reporter, was the one who initially opened the charges, and the case wasn’t prosecuted not for lack of evidence but in order to spare an emotionally traumatized Dylan Farrow, because trials regarding sexual assault can be triggering and damaging for survivors.

      One last reminder: this policy has a very publicly posted safe space policy for survivors of sexual assault, eating disorders, etc., and it is enforced.

    • My post wasn’t intended to suggest that Dylan Farrow or any particular person is lying. It’s about the general attitude that people who allege sexual assault are telling the truth. If that belief becomes widespread, it will also affect how juries vote.

      To believe her before looking at the specifics of the case is what is troubling to me.

      • So like, that’s not how the justice system works? Most sexual assault cases never even go to trial. You need substantial evidence to a) acquire an arrest warrant and b) believe a trial is worth the time and money it takes. According to the US Attorney’s Office, in most cases where there is substantial evidence such that a trial would most likely lead to conviction, a plea deal is offered, so a jury is never involved.

        The way things CURRENTLY are, however, survivors are harassed into not reporting. The police sometimes fail to take reports of sexual assault seriously. When survivors do come forward, they are harassed or even attacked (there have been several high-profile examples in the last year alone). Because “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a difficult standard, it can be hard to get a conviction even if the crime occurred, which can also be problematic and result in harm to survivors. All this post is saying is that we as a society can’t afford to dismiss on face the idea that an assault occurred, just because we don’t want to hear it. The police need to actually investigate, the testimony of survivors needs to be considered legitimate, and support needs to be offered to people suffering from sexual trauma.

        When I say I believed Dylan Farrow before reading every fact of the case, what I really said was this: I’m not inclined to dismiss, out of hand, the idea that Dylan Farrow lied. I choose to trust that survivors are telling the truth until it’s proven that they happen to fall in that tiny 2-4 percent of false reports. That’s all.

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