The appalling saga of serial sexual abuser San Diego mayor Bob Filner gets steadily worse. Once the allegations came out and the first victim went public, there has been a steady stream of women coming forward describing similar events. The Daily Show chronicles his disgusting behavior.
(This clip aired on July 31, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)
Now a ninth woman Emily Gilbert has come forward with allegations that he groped her.
“He grabbed me a little too tight, then proceeded to slide his hand down my arm and then did a little grab on my derriere,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t want to make a scene. There were kids around.”
The people he did this to were not all young and powerless or those in his employ whom one can understand being reluctant to report this behavior for fear of repercussions. Among them were “a retired Navy rear-admiral, a dean at San Diego State University, the head of the Port Tenants Association and a businesswoman.” So why did they not speak up immediately?
Gilbert’s use of the phrase “I didn’t want to make a scene” gives us a clue as to how people like Filner get away with their behavior for so long without the victims blowing the whistle. They take advantage of the fact that they know that most people try to avoid ‘making a scene’, especially if they are taken by surprise. I can imagine that the immediate reaction would be shock and disbelief that such a thing could happen. This would be followed by the desire to escape the situation as quickly and quietly as possible without anyone else noticing, out of sheer embarrassment, and maybe having a vague feeling that they might be blamed for the situation especially if the abuser is a prominent member of the community These predators seem to instinctively sense this and use it to their advantage to escape the consequences of their actions.
From a distance it is easy to say that these women should have immediately denounced his actions but we should not underestimate the paralyzing effect of surprise. I really don’t know what one can do, other than plan in advance a stock set of responses to deal with most situations so that one has prepared oneself mentally as to how to put these abusers in their place.