Monday, August 17, 2009

Connecticut Hotel Rape: Is the Woman at Fault?

When I saw this headline, my reaction was immediate and outraged! It seems that cutting across a hotel parking lot with two small children implies that the mother was negligent in protecting her own safety, and to blame for her being raped in front of her two children:

The papers filed last month in Superior Court by the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa say the victim "failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities."

Prosecutors say Gary Fricker assaulted the woman in her minivan in the hotel's parking garage in front of her two children, then ages 3 and 5. Fricker is now serving 20 years in prison.
What?! Rape is the only crime that the victim must prove their innocence. Rape is always the fault of the rapist. Yet, rape victims remind each of us of our vulnerability, according Invulnerability or Assumptive World Theory. If we can assign blame to the victim, then we can create the illusion of safety and control for ourselves. Another theory, Just World Hypothesis, suggests a need to see victims get "their just deserts." It seems to be a desperate attempt to see the world in black and white view when the vulnerability equates to deserving of harm. It seems to me that both views are the product of a patriarchical culture that sees the victim careless and partly at fault.

Research shows that men tend to blame the victim more than women. Furthermore, promiscuous men tend to rape more than nonpromiscious men. Of all victims, gay men tend to be judged the worst as rape victims. It's as if the victim has a duty to protect the aggressor from victimizing them!

Indeed, in this case the Marriott would rather blame the victim, than to pay a lawsuit. Certainly the Marriott has dropped their stance of blaming the victim, but they have already committed irreparable harm to this woman. And blamed their stance on not having gathered sufficient data, or on lawyer's deceased mother.


  1. Some how "insufficient data" seems to be the lamest most inexcusable face-saving ploy I have read up to date on this. The point is that anyone, male or female should be able to walk anywhere at need, without concerns about attack, rape or horror. Irregardless of location, station in life, or anything else - sobriety, or lack of it and so forth. I hope reparation is being made, beyond putting away the rapist for the next two decades...Like maybe the Marriot ought to pay for therapy to be available to the woman, her children and the childrens father. And not just for six sessions either! We live in a culture that makes women into objects, and rape a sport - and anyone who would care to dispute me on that needs to go read "Transforming a Rape Culture" by Emilie Buchwald (Author), Pamela R. Fletcher (Author), and Martha Roth (Editor). I recomend the book profoundly - it is an eye-opener. The Marriott's disdain and weaseling to try to dodge legal entanglements and blame caused more pain than I care to think about - we read these words and are horrified. But the woman who was raped sat there in court and heard them said about herself, and I cannot imagine what her thoughts must have been - "was it my fault? Did I endanger my children? What have I done?" I only hope that she found the strength somewhere to get through it, to seek advocacy and amounted to a second rape emotionally.