What is more traumatizing? Learning that your son might have been sexually assaulted — or trying to bring his attackers to justice?
That’s the question posed by tonight’s episode of American Crime, as Anne Blaine deals with the fallout of her season-premiere-concluding phone call to 911. Although the authorities are involved now, neither Anne nor her son, Taylor, can see much of a light at the end of the tunnel. A police investigation means Taylor, with tears rolling down his cheeks, must submit himself to a physically and emotionally humiliating rape kit while Anne undergoes unsympathetic runaround after runaround. Whether it’s the police officers responding to her 911 call or the detectives assigned to the case, Anne is having a lot of trouble getting the authorities to take her concerns seriously. Like headmaster Leslie Graham last week, no one wants to believe that a boy could have been raped by other boys.
The victim-blaming also continues to be rampant here, with one of the first-responding cops saying how there’s not much they can do if a still-in-shock Taylor continues clamming up on the subject:
“If he’s not going to help us, then we can’t help him.”
Later, once the case is passed along to a detective, Anne continues to use up most of her energy convincing this law-enforcement figure that her son was sexually assaulted by other males. The detective, whose face we barely see — which adds to the effect of the nameless, faceless system that has refused to help Anne and Taylor — also doesn’t buy the story that the teenager was drugged. He spends their entire conversation playing devil’s advocate (“[Drugging] is a lot of effort because you don’t like somebody”), making Anne, once again, look and feel crazy. The detective also sends Anne right back to where she started, citing the fact that the incident involves minors, so it really should be handled by the school, not the police. He pretty much writes this off as “kids doing dumb stuff” and that perhaps this is a sign Taylor might have a drinking problem, so Anne should get him some help.
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
The only place where Anne doesn’t experience any victim-blaming is during therapy. And that’s only because her therapist would rather put the onus on her than Taylor. She’s advised to stop pressuring her son to talk about what happened and that her priority is to make sure whatever she is doing “has a positive effect” on him. Even this damn therapist is using a bunch of Leslie Graham-speak on Anne, which is the last thing she needs to hear after all she’s been through. He actually asks if Taylor “engages” with her.
Yeah, he engages with his mother — to tell her that all he wants is for this trauma to go away.
Unfortunately for Taylor, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, even though, as Anne observes, that’s exactly what the Leyland School is trying to do. But that would just mean no support for Taylor and no punishment for the boys who attacked him. So, just as she did last week, a frustrated Anne is forced to take matters into her own hands and makes a decision that, like the 911 call, might end up putting Taylor through more stress than the rape kit. (It should be noted that since we don’t receive the results of the forensic exams in this episode, we can’t rule out any further police investigation just yet.)
NEXT: “It happens more than you think”