Monica at age 14 begins an exclusive relationship with a classmate, a boy one year younger than she.  It’s public knowledge among their mates that they are an item. After a year, at age 15 Monica falls pregnant and tells her father and uncle that she was raped – by her boyfriend. Repeatedly.

The case was investigated. Family relatives were divided in their beliefs of the story of rape. Police looked but did not find any evidence to corroborate her story.  She gave birth to a healthy child, finished high school and at 18 meets a young man. They move in together, leaving the toddler behind, with the promise of frequent visitations and someday reuniting as a family.

The child is raised by incredibly caring grandparents with whom she feels wanted, loved and safe. At age 9 she is reunited with her mother, the boyfriend turned step-father, and a  half-sister, four years her junior. She embraces her family but misses her grandparents and never quite feels as though she belongs.

Not long after, and as the feeling of being the outsider in this new family arrangement intensifies,  her mother takes her aside and tells her she was conceived from a boyfriend who’d raped her. Repeatedly. Monica’s child is once again sent to live with her grandparents, who welcome her with open arms and do their best to soften the young girl’s news. She moves back and forth between families for the next few years.

As a teenager she meets another girl with a similar story and the two vow to find their biological fathers. Their search is foiled by a legal system full of sealed records and after a few months they give up.

Then one day while the girlfriend surfs the web, she trips over a website that features a handful of fathers looking for their children. There is a letter with her friend’s name on it. She replies.

The man introduces himself as the father of Monica’s child, explaining that he’d been looking for his daughter for a long time – but that he’d had to move far away because the rumour of his having raped a girl changed his life. He was innocent. But more than he wanted his child to know he wasn’t a rapist – he wanted her to know that she hadn’t been brought into this world from violence or anger – and that had he been given a chance he’d wanted to be her father, regardless of how young he and the mother had been. And they had been young. He was 13 when they began having sexual relations. Monica had been 14.

The young teenager made contact with her newly found parent. When Monica and her husband find out, Monica is so traumatised she’s hospitalised overnight and the her child is once again sent away.

There’s much, much more to this story and I understand how – some 20 years ago now, a young 14 year old girl could have probably feared her father enough to make the claim of rape to excuse her having become pregnant at such a young age. I’m not really faulting her for what happened between two kids and her subsequent prospect of having to face an angry parent.

What I can’t understand and am still trying to wrap my head around, is how the mother could have kept up the lie  all these years – why she even told her daughter she’d been conceived during rape – and why she continues to punish her daughter for an event that never took place. I don’t understand the logic at all and my outrage at what this woman has put this girl through – and continues to put her through – has me teetering on madness.

You have no idea how much self-restrain I’m having to use just to keep from calling this woman out publicly. But my young friend has had enough public humiliation and personal pain and dragging her mother out into the sunlight would only serve to add to her pain.

But if any of you can offer viable explanations, it might serve to help her heal.

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I bring this question and subject to you readers because I have exhausted my options on Google to find adequate research on this subject – and it is important to certain people in my world that this phenomenon be explained.

Most of the information that I found on the internet has to do with defending women accused of having lied about being raped – and the overwhelming defense that normally, women don’t. I get that. What I’m trying to understand myself and be able to explain to a teenager, is why there are cases where females have lied about it – the possible motivation behind the lie – and I especially aim this discussion at younger girls say between the ages of 13 and 17, making the false accusation but any insight will be considered helpful.

If you have a personal story you are willing to share or know of research data I may pursue – or have even an old-fashioned opinion I would greatly appreciate the input.

Thanks
Oz

In 1961 a Lillian Hellman play (circa 1930’s) was adapted to film. It raised eyebrows and hackles as it slipped into neighbourhood movie theatres across America. Polite people didn’t openly say the word lesbian as a rule back then much less make it the focus of a movie and more than one religious-right group had it banned from their town. Thing is, the movie wasn’t about lesbians – it was about how quick the public is to embrace hearsay as truth and the ensuing collective knee-jerk reaction that causes permanent damage to those accused before the facts are ever brought to light.

As actresses, Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine took a lot of flack for their portrayal of two single teachers wrongly accused of being lesbians by one of their students. The fact of their characters’ innocence made no difference to those offended by the topic. The movie itself was actually falsely labelled perverse before movie-goers had a chance to see for themselves it was neither sexually explicit nor about lesbians – ironically reinforcing the entire moral of the story.

Regardless of a person’s defense of or offense taken, the movie made a strong statement about the manipulation of public opinion:  Once an accusing finger has been pointed there will be those who forever believe the accusation in spite of any evidence ultimately pointing to the contrary. It is the epitomy of the old adage – Once a bell is rung it can never be un-rung.

The Story:
Karen and Martha are longtime friends who open a school for girls. They are hard-working, good teachers and the school attracts many affluent families. Karen has a boyfriend, Martha does not but Karen and her boyfriend include Martha in everything they do. The women’s strong bond and warm personalities contribute to their success as teachers.

Enter the mean girl, Mary, who’s punished for telling a lie and gets even with her teacher by beginning a rumour that the two schoolteachers are lovers. Before the rumour can be disproved, parents pull their daughters from the school and the two women are shunned by the town.

The disgrace and violence the women endure as a result of the false accusation is sadly no different from what happens today. As a society we are every bit too quick to pass judgement now as we were 60-70-80 years ago. Especially when we feel our children may be at risk.

If this is a movie you’ve never seen, I strongly recommend it. The acting is superb and the story is gripping.

This is my head’s up to you because over the next few days I’d like to open a discussion about last month’s events at Penn State. It’s not a happy story – not for anyone – but certain contradictory facts are beginning to bubble to the surface and I’d seriously like to be able to talk about them with you.

Here’s a bit from tomorrow’s post: