Central Park rape victim offended by Winfreys blame-the-victim question

November 16th, 2007 - 6:31 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Nov 16 (ANI): Oprah Winfrey has been slammed by a rape victim for asking a blame-the-victim question in an interview about the incident.

In an interview with NY1, Trisha Meili, who was brutally raped and left to die in the Central Park in 1989, said she was stunned by the questions Winfrey asked her during their 2002 talk.

“She kinda leaned over to me and said, ‘What were you doing in the park at that hour?’” the New York Daily News quoted Meili, as saying.

“A million things going through my mind - how do I answer this … and I just said basically, ‘Well, it was time to relax, but it in no way justified what happened to me,’” she added.

After the interview, Meili published a book about her ordeal, “I Am the Central Park Jogger,” and has since become a public advocate for victims of sexual violence.

The 47-year-old Central Park Jogger said that if Winfrey enquired her about the same thing today, she would have responded more forcefully.

“I’d say. ‘Well, if that isn’t a blame-the-victim question, I don’t know what is.’ Because that’s exactly what it is, she said.

“It’s like, ‘Okay, so it’s my fault that I was out there and what about all those young men who were out there at that time?

“I think that’s still one of the most difficult battles that sexual assault survivors need to fight. Because there is that feeling, that first assumption: What did you do? What were you wearing?” she added.

In response, a spokesperson for Winfrey said, “Were sorry to hear Ms. Meili felt this way about her 2002 interview with Ms. Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey is and has always been an advocate for victims of sexual abuse of any kind.”

Winfrey made no bones about the nature of her first question when the interview appeared in O magazine.

Winfrey confessed to Meili at the time: “When I first heard about you, I thought, ‘Why were you running alone in Central Park at night?’”

In response, Meili said: “You’re not the first person to say that. For me, running was a release at the end of the day, and I had this feeling that, ‘Hey, I have every right to run where I want, when I want.’

“I’d been running in the park for two years. It was not a smart thing to do. Yet that is absolutely no justification for what happened to me,” she added.

Winfrey said: “Believe me, I’m not sitting here trying to justify it.

“But the idea of running alone in Central Park is a foreign concept to me. You had to be the kind of person who either thought you were invincible or who was just nuts.”
Meili said: “I wouldn’t say I was nuts. Maybe I thought I was invincible.” (ANI)

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