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Alan Grayson’s Response To His Wife’s Accusations Of Domestic Abuse Follows A Familiar Playbook

House Financial Services Committee member Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., listens to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testify before the committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
House Financial Services Committee member Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., listens to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testify before the committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Early Tuesday morning, Politico published a lengthy story documenting repeated accusations that Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) physically abused his ex-wife.

Grayson, who is running for Senate in Florida, responded through his campaign on Tuesday morning, forcefully denying the allegations and accusing his ex-wife — whom he called “disturbed” — of fabricating the entire episode.

The severity of the allegations were enough to trigger alarms at multiple progressive organizations that had already endorsed Grayson’s senate bid. Two of the largest, Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, issued a joint statement on Tuesday afternoon withdrawing their support for Grayson.

“After today’s revelations of years of police reports about allegations of domestic abuse involving Alan Grayson, we are no longer willing to support and are fomally withdrawing our endorsement of him in the race for U.S. Senate,” said leadership from both organizations in the statement, though PCCC’s initial endorsement is still live on their website.

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The speed with which progressive groups sought to distance themselves from Grayson’s campaign is a markedly different approach to other recent public cases of domestic and sexual abuse. People and organizations remain largely reluctant to stand beside abuse victims until a sufficient amount of hard evidence has been presented.

And even then, victims may still find themselves with few allies. It took months of public outcry to finally move the NFL to action even after they had watched video evidence of Ray Rice violently beating his wife in a hotel elevator. When it comes to victims and their stories, skepticism remains the default setting.http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/05/28/3783007/domestic-violence-arrested/In many cases of domestic or sexual abuse, a victim’s demeanor is carefully scrutinized and picked apart in search of anomalous or contrarian behavior. The idea that there is a “correct” and an “incorrect” way to behave after suffering a traumatic event is a particularly well-worn myth, one that has repeatedly been used to undermine women who come forward to accuse men of abuse.

The immediate response from the Grayson campaign took a similar tack. Grayson’s attorney depicted Lolita Grayson as scheming, manipulative and untrustworthy.

“Lolita is a disturbed woman. She has made one false allegation after another. Her own daughter refutes her,” said Mark NeJame, Grayson’s lawyer. “There never has been a witness or any proof whatsoever of her claims. The claims have been so ridiculous that not one time has there even been enough probable cause to bring a charge or an arrest against Alan Grayson.”

That’s not exactly true. In nearly every case highlighted by Politico, Lolita Grayson declined to press charges, which is not the same thing as having insufficient evidence to bring a lawsuit. One police report filed after a 2005 altercation documents evidence of bruising and other bodily injuries sustained by Lolita, supposedly at the hands of her husband. A local prosecutor called her to ask about pressing domestic battery charges, but she declined to cooperate.

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Study after study have explored the myriad reasons why victims of domestic abuse fail to press charges, ranging from emotional manipulation by the abuser to a desire to keep the family intact for the sake of their children to financial anxiety. But too often, a failure to press charges is taken as evidence that the allegations are false or exaggerated.