Ghislaine Maxwell, whose federal trial begins today, is accused of facilitating the sexual exploitation of girls for her longtime companion, Jeffrey Epstein. The charges against her include sex trafficking of a minor. https://t.co/wAiu4vaESq
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 29, 2021
I was born with a hunger for justice and a need to protect innocence.
In my own life and private healing practice, I often encounter people—men and women—who have been taken advantage of and abused through various forms of predation.
Patriarchy, in its most vile manifestations, is a predatory system.
Though men and women alike can be advantaged or victimized by systemic patriarchy, we need only look at what some people in powerful positions are doing—and getting away with—to clearly see a structure that promotes and protects certain men’s positions and reputations, while potentially covering for their misdeeds.
The trial, and subsequent (alleged) suicide of Jeffery Epstein, an American financier, and convicted sex offender, who died in 2019 before he could be prosecuted for charges of sex trafficking, shone the light on many prominent faces in politics and other positions of power and influence. Epstein was associated with people such as Prince Andrew, who is accused of sexually assaulting Virginia Giuffre.
In an article by the BBC News, a photo can be seen with Prince Andrew, Giuffre, and socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. The prince denies having ever met Giuffre, as well as the validity of the photo in which he is clearly shown.
The real kicker is that the reason Prince Andrew cannot be prosecuted for rape is not that he is more than likely innocent of the charges, as he claims, but “that Ms. Giuffre agreed in court in 2009 not to sue anyone else connected to Epstein when she settled her damages claim against the billionaire sex offender.”
Prince Andrew’s lawyers said this agreement “releases the duke and others from any and all potential liability”
Here we see the manipulation of the legal system to protect the actions of an alleged predator—a powerful one, a royal. If those who are in the greatest positions of power in the world cannot be held accountable for their behaviors, how can we, who are lower in social standing, have any faith in due process or justice.
As a woman, I can assure you that it takes a tremendous amount of courage to rise and report sexual abuse.
I, myself, was date raped when I was 21. I was on drugs and I was drunk; it was part of my lifestyle at the time. I knew what would happen if I called the cops: I would have been put on trial before they even got around to attaining a description of the man who had assaulted me.
“What were you wearing? Who else was there? Were you drunk?”
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t handle having woken up in a strange room, a strange bed—naked—with no memory of what had happened, my clothes in a pile on the floor, then having to prove my abuse. I couldn’t do it.
I cannot fathom the courage it has taken for the women who accused Epstein of rape to stand in the face of bullying, coercion, and threats. Not only does a woman who has been raped have to relive the horror of having had her personhood violated, she has to be scrutinized through the process.
This is not to say that there aren’t women who will use false accusations of violence, rape, or other forms of abuse to manipulate situations to their own agendas. This, like sexual grooming, is also a form of predation.
This takes us to Ghislaine Maxwell. Maxwell was Epstein’s long-time companion and is currently facing charges of sex trafficking. “She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused,” Assistant District Attorney Lara Pomerantz said in her opening statement.
In her podcast, “Chasing Ghislaine: the Untold Story of the Woman in Epstein’s Shadow,” available on Audible, Vicki Ward, a journalist who has written for such publications as “Vanity Fair,” paints a picture of Maxwell’s life before her trial. She includes the history and connections of Maxwell’s father, Robert Maxwell, a media mogul who died under mysterious conditions in 1991.
Robert is portrayed as, “bombastic, bullying and with a deep, booming voice, Maxwell was an enormous figure in British national life.” As well as having many legal and largely successful businesses, he was accused of stealing hundreds of millions of pounds from his own company’s pension fund. Ward also draws connections with crime syndicates and the Israeli Mossad.
We see Maxwell as being descended from a man who was, by some accounts, an abusive, narcissistic, womanizer, as well as a criminal. She was allegedly his favorite child—but at what cost did she attain the favor of such a man?
Fawning is a psychological strategy that is deployed when we must keep our abuser close to us. It is a form of people-pleasing and an attempt to procure safety in an utterly unsafe situation. It is not pure confabulation, at least in my opinion, to speculate that Maxwell may have learned this behavior as a means of ingratiating herself to her father. She is said to have been lost without him (and his money) after his death, and it was around this time that Epstein made his appearance in her life.
It seems that Epstien stepped into the role that Maxwell’s father’s death left vacant. As infatuated as she was with him, it would appear, by many accounts, that he did not reciprocate the feelings. She was, however, placed in charge of his estates and may have had access to his finances.
The charges that are levied against Maxwell are for procuring under-age women—Oh wait! There’s no such thing. She is accused of procuring children for the purpose of perverse sexual practices, allegedly for the entertainment of powerful men who were friends and guests of Epstein.
Ward confirms my speculation about the fawning that likely occurred between Maxwell and her father. In her podcast, she reports Maxwell saying, “My father taught me you do whatever it takes to keep your man.” It appears this behavior was recreated with Epstein in losing weight, ceasing smoking, and potentially participating in ménage à trois.
Is it possible that these deeply ingrained people-pleasing behaviors led Maxwell to allegedly procure and sexually groom underage girls for Epstein? Well, that is the legal question.
The moral question is this: is Maxwell a lifelong victim of abuse, predation, and grooming, herself? And if so, does that warrant leniency or compassion when determining her fate and holding her accountable for possibly ruining hundreds of women’s and children’s lives?
How do we treat predators who were once, themselves, prey?
Personally, I believe that adults are, and need to be held, fully accountable for their behavior. Prior victimization is not an excuse for abuse.
As Maxwell’s trial proceeds, we shall see.