Wednesday Vanessa Tyson released a statement about the alleged 2004 sexual assault involving Justin Fairfax, the current Lt. Gov. of Virginia. Tyson’s statement was very explicit about how the encounter moved from a surprise kiss to a sexual assault in which she was forced to perform oral sex on Fairfax against her will. She wrote, “Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me.”
The alleged incident Tyson describes is certainly shocking but today the Washington Post reveals there may be another reason this particular incident terrified her. And that has to do with previous trauma she experienced as a child at the hands of her father:
Tyson spoke openly about overcoming the trauma of being molested by a relative as a young child and having to testify against him in court. She told her story to friends and colleagues, gave interviews about being a sexual assault survivor, and volunteered at a rape crisis center…
A good friend of Tyson’s, who said he dated her in the late 1990s, said she was very clear with him during their relationship about what she was not comfortable doing in intimate settings.
“Based on her experience with assault when she was young, she wasn’t comfortable engaging in certain acts,” said the friend, who asked not to be named because he did not want to become further embroiled in the political scandal.
In particular, Tyson was not at all comfortable with oral sex, because of her childhood trauma, the friend said.
“It was something that wasn’t going to happen,” he said. “This is something specific to her and her experience, and is not something that happens casually, or at all.”
In other words, the alleged assault by Fairfax involved a sex act that Tyson already felt traumatized about. Obviously, I’m not suggesting there’s any good way for someone to be sexually assaulted, I’m just pointing out that what allegedly happened in 2004 would have been especially horrifying for someone with Tyson’s past experiences.
For his part, Tyson claims the sexual activity with Tyson was entirely consensual. I obviously don’t know who is telling the truth in what seems to be a classic, he said, she said. However, if the statement of this past boyfriend is true, then it seems unlikely that Tyson would voluntarily engage in oral sex with someone she had just met. The NY Times apparently spoke to the same ex-boyfriend:
A mutual friend of Dr. Tyson and Mr. Fairfax, who asked not to be named to protect his own privacy, said he dated Dr. Tyson in the late 1990s and believed her account. Given her experience with abuse as a child, he said, she was not the type of person to become intimate in the way she described with someone she had just met.
Again, it’s not definitive and someone could come forward with a completely different story tomorrow, but it’s something that points toward a potential problem with Fairfax’s version of the encounter. In any case, his decision to use this video of Tyson talking about being molested by her father as a child as proof of his innocence strikes me as pretty disgusting.