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BARCC Updates

Taylor Swift = #Fearless

Girl holds sign that says Thank You, Taylor, while giving two thumbs up.

This week, Taylor Swift experienced something that far too few survivors of sexual assault experience: justice in the courtroom.

On Monday, a jury denied the claims of David Mueller, a former radio station disc jockey who had sued Swift for $3 million. He claimed that he had been fired from his job after Swift told station managers that he had groped her at a station-sponsored event for Swift’s fans. Instead, the jury awarded Swift $1, which is the amount Swift countersued for.

Swift refused to settle and brought the case to court, she said, in order to serve as “an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”

She accomplished that goal—and more. In this moving essay for Glamour, a woman explains how Swift’s handling of the case helped her come to terms with her own sexual assault, which also involved unwanted groping from a man:

"[M]any friends—even those who discounted my own experience—had a similar story of being groped, kissed without consent, or assaulted in some other way that fell short of rape. Taylor Swift also has such a story. And she didn't minimize it and brush it aside. . . .

In no uncertain terms Swift referred to what happened to her as a sexual assault. Her suit stated that she would give any monetary awards the case earned her to organizations 'dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard.'

She’s right to use this phrase: Sexual assault is 'any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient,' including 'fondling,' according to the Department of Justice. Still, hearing her describe her experience this way was life-changing for me."

The massive media coverage of the case also amplified an important message that we tell survivors all the time: it’s not your fault.

When Mueller’s attorney attempted to shift blame for what happened onto Swift, she replied:

“I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault, because it isn’t.”

Indeed, many of Swift’s terse, blunt, and forcefully direct responses to Mueller’s questions have been shared multiple times on social media.

Other truth bombs include: “Here we are, years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the products of his decisions—not mine.” And in response to a question about whether she was critical of her bodyguards for not noticing and stopping the assault, Swift answered, “I’m critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my ass.”

Swift has already made good on the pledge in her countersuit to support organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves by contributing to the Joyful Heart Foundation. The organization was founded by Mariska Hargitay, who stars in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which is one of Swift’s favorite shows. (She even has a cat named after Olivia Benson, the character played by Hargitay.)

After the jury verdict, Swift said she would be making donations to “multiple organizations.” We’re not going to be shy about this—we hope one of them is BARCC.

Will you help us get Swift’s attention?

We want to thank her for standing up for herself and all survivors of sexual assault, and we’d like to ask her to consider including BARCC among the organizations she supports. Just take these four simple steps:

  1. Print out this sign.
  2. Have someone take a photo of you holding the sign.
  3. Post to social media tagging Taylor Swift and BARCC (we have sample posts below and remember to make them public so Taylor can see them)!
  4. Ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thank you for supporting BARCC!

Sample social media posts

Two kids stand in front of Taylor Swift posts holding sign that says Thank You, Taylor!Don't forget to make your posts public!

Tag bolded parts by starting with @ and choosing when correct profile pops up.
Thank you, Taylor Swift, for all you've done to be #Fearless and #ShowUpforSurvivors! Will you please make our #WildestDreams come true and support the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center?

Thank you, @taylorswift, for all you've done to be #Fearless and #ShowUpforSurvivors! Will you please make our #WildestDreams come true and support @barccofficial?

Thank you @taylorswift13 for all you've done to be #Fearless & #ShowUpforSurvivors! Pls. make our #WildestDreams come true: support @barcc!

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Stephanie DeCandia
Stephanie DeCandia is BARCC's director of programs. She provides oversight of and strategic direction for BARCC's client services and​ advocacy programs as well as its legislative and policy work. She first started at BARCC as a​ legal intern and also served as the Victim Rights Law Center’s supervising staff attorney (when it was a BARCC program) as well as BARCC's legal advocacy coordinator, manager of system advocacy and policy, and director of client services and advocacy. In addition to her work at BARCC, Stephanie is a part-­time lecturer at Northeastern University, where she teaches a class entitled Sexual Violence: Counseling, Programs, and​ Policy. She earned a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law and a​ bachelor’s degree in social work from Providence College.

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