Taylor Swift: Strength and Dignity in the Face of Sexual Assault
- A person is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in America.
- 1 in 6 American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
- 9 out of 10 rape victims are female.
- From 2009-2013, 63,000 children a year were sexually abused.
Source: https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network).
I spoke recently to my thirteen-year-old daughter, Kristie, about Taylor Swift’s court battle with former radio DJ, David Mueller, who allegedly groped Swift while posing for a picture at a promotional backstage meet-and-greet in 2013. I talked to Kristie because I want my daughter to know that sexual assault is serious and how someone reacts to it does matter. After the alleged incident, Swift conveyed what happened to the people closest to her, and Mueller was dismissed from his job by the radio station that employed him after they received a complaint from a member of Swift’s team.
Mueller filed a lawsuit in 2015 against Swift claiming he lost his job over an incident that didn’t happen and asked for three million dollars in damages. Swift did not settle out of court and counter-sued for a symbolic $1 to state her case in a courtroom.
In court, Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland, grilled Swift about the incident, but the singer was unflappable. According to CNN, here are some of her responses to the opposing lawyer:
“What Mr. Mueller did was very intentional.”
“I am critical of your client for sticking his hand up my skirt and grabbing my ***.”
“I am not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault, because it isn’t.”
“Gabe, this is a photo of him with his hand up my skirt – with his hand on my ***. You can ask me a million questions – I’m never going to say anything different. I never have said anything different.”
I cannot know exactly what occurred at the meet-and-greet because I wasn’t there. I did see the picture online of Mueller, Swift, and the DJ’s girlfriend at the time, Shannon Melcher. It looks to me that Mueller’s hand is positioned behind Swift in a way that he could very well have groped her.
The jurors decided in favor of Taylor Swift and awarded her the $1, but the money isn’t what’s important. She stood up for herself, and yes, as a famous singer, it must be stated she has resources unavailable to most people. But she didn’t have to go to court. She didn’t have to testify. She didn’t have to face the barrage of questions from Mueller’s attorney. She didn’t have to publicly live through a traumatic incident again. But she chose to and I admire her for that.
Victims of sexual assault need to know they are not to blame for the inexcusable actions of a perpetrator, and Swift declared this during her testimony in unflinching terms for all to see and hear. By going to court, Swift is saying she will not succumb to sexual assault. It’s wrong and no one should have to endure it. She could not set a better example for my daughter.