On Casey Anthony and Incest Statistics
Look, I don’t know what happened in Florida years ago. A child is dead. I wish for her sake that the death was a painless accident, one with no fear, violence, terror. I am not being callous when I say that so many many children are dead, ones the press never describes as pretty, beautiful, precious, cute, tragic — ones the press never describes at all, like all the Pakistani and Afghani children killed by drones which are, by definition, heartless, soul-less, premeditated murders.
I do know this: while most everyone I know claims to “know” the statistics about rates of incest, “know” that men rape and terrorize and murder children every single damn day, when any one woman stands and says, “This happened to me” she is immediately disbelieved. As if “those children” child rape happens to are aliens, out there, somewhere. As if the adults who rape children are even more alien, evil outsiders, half mythological boogeymen.
Since none of us know what happened, how has the press created a narrative so strong that hundreds of thousands of people are ready to lynch this woman? The 13 people that did get to see and hear what exists of the evidence said, quickly, that it was not enough to prove anything.
Since none of us know what happened, let’s try on a different narrative, one that all kinds of official FBI statistics and years of sociological and therapeutic studies say could be true. Casey Anthony, as a girl, was raped, humiliated, and terrorized by a father obsessed with controlling everything about her. Her brother was, on occasion, part of this abuse. She therefore grew up in a web of fear and lies, probably with a high level of dissociation, one that would allow her to live through hell at night and get up and go to school as if life were normal in the morning. Both the lying and the dissociation became habitual, such that even Casey’s closest friends had no idea what was true. When Casey became pregnant, she at first “didn’t know” for many months, and then never told a consistent story about who the father was. With no real life skills, and under her father’s obsessive control, she continued to stay intertwined with her family, ensuring the lying and dissociation remained uninterruptable. She was, her friends report, an extremely loving and attentive mother. But then again, her friends were also always being lied to about basic details of her life.
Then, at her parents’ house with her mother gone, something happened, which resulted in her father saying that Caylee was dead and that they would have to cover up the death. How did Caylee die? Casey reported that her father reported the girl had drowned. If so, why not call an ambulance, call the police, report the horrible accident?
Exactly. Without really knowing what happened, let’s suppose, as we’re supposing all of this, that Caylee died the way plenty of girls have died, while being orally raped by an adult male. (Sorry if even reading that upsets you, but reality is reality and it ain’t pretty or easy or nice.) Or maybe she died some other way under this man’s hands – since the body was missing for so long, we may never know. We do know that the body, when found, had been treated the exact same way Daddy George buried family pets, mouth and feet duct taped and the body then wrapped in a blanket. And we do know that Casey pretty much lost her mind at that point, descending in a dark fantasy world where the child had never existed, then, pulled out of that world, into a pathetic, amateur web of lies.
(Here’s where I can’t agree with the press conclusion that’s she a classic sociopath – she just doesn’t seem that smart or calculating. Latina nanny is right up there with Susan Smith’s black car jacker. And need I remind you that Susan Smith’s daddy started raping her as a young teen and continued into her 20’s?)
Why did the story of the incest, her father’s “discovery” of Caylee’s body, the cover-up, only come out at trial? One proven theory – that, after three years in jail away from her family, Casey finally had enough distance from the terror to begin to move out of the lying and dissociative breaks. One theory, but it’s been true plenty of times in the history of incarceration, including folks who finally get sober, finally are safe from some kinds of violence (and victim to others in the horror that is our prison system), finally stop running and begin to have their lives catch up to them.
I’m not asking you to take this as truth, or to take it whole-cloth. I’m only asking that you hold this story up to the story the press has been telling, and measure for yourself the gaps, the unlikely moments, the prejudices, of each. I’m very clear about my prejudices and assumptions here, as an incest survivor myself. My great-uncle would sometimes call me by his daughter’s name, making me wonder if Daddy George knew the difference between Casey Anthony and Caylee Anthony. I know that incest survivors, as young adults, often drink, sleep around, take stupid risks, and get into to awful situations way over their heads, and that this is a pattern started by the abuse.
Who in the press will be so honest about the assumptions driving THEIR version?