Shook - 15 Questions Inspired by The Girl in the Picture Netflix Documentary
The Girl in the Picture - Netflix Documentary
Some Thoughts / Some Questions
It Was The 80s
Netflix has a new documentary that has captivated many. When I watched The Girl in the Picture it inspired lots of questions. Not just questions about the case itself, but questions about: protection, culture, values, bravery, secrets, parenting, money, class, abuse, violence, social services, monsters, and have we made any real progress since the 80s.
I was a child at about the same time, and the documentary was right. No one checked on kids! People had blind trust. As kids, we went everywhere, did everything, and generally speaking, we were put in harm's way a lot. The 80’s were fun and dangerous. If you survived without too much damage, count yourself lucky! So many of us were latchkey kids raised by Scooby Doo, The More You Know, and Oprah. That is where we figured out every family had their issues, the mystery is usually solved in the end, and there is a moral to every story.
Cheryl Ann Commesso, Michael, Suzanne Marie Sevakis, Franklin Delano Floyd
Besides the case of Suzanne Marie Sevakis (Sharon/Tonya), her son, Michael, her friend, Cheryl Ann Commesso, and their sadistic murderer, Franklin Delano Floyd, which the documentary centered, there are three women that captured my attention. Jennifer Fisher, the high school friend that witnessed Suzie being raped by “daddy”, Heather Lane, the woman that ran the strip club, and had been abdicated for 5 years. WHAT? And WHAT? And, Karen Parsley, Suzie's best friend at the time of her death.
Jennifer Fisher, Heather Lane, Karen Parsley
Let’s start with Jennifer Fisher. I know you cannot hold a young teenage girl responsible for knowing enough to tell an adult what happened. But, she went to a friend's house and was terrified by a single adult man when he walked in on them, when they were partially clothed. He was waving around a gun and raped her friend while she was right there. She said the decision of not saying anything haunts her. It would haunt any normal person. She is lucky she was not forced to participate. But, let’s just say she did tell someone in the 80’s. What would have happened?
Would someone actually come to Suzie’s rescue? I have heard many stories of children telling parents stories like this, and nothing happened to them. Children were told to forget about it, don’t go over there anymore, and let’s not get involved. So, have we made progress? Some other things we know about the 80’s is there were a lot of runaways, drug abuse, AIDs spreading fast, and domestic violence. This was way before the Me Too Movement, before the disgrace of the Catholic Church’s Sex Scandal, even before the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky Scandal. There was a lot of pretending and looking the other way in America.
Heather Lane mentioned something, kind of as a sideways comment. She said, I was abducted for 5 years, and my mother never stopped looking for me. What? Seriously! What the heck is her story? We get no further information on that? I searched. Nothing!
Karen Parsley was the woman that finally called Child Protective Services after Suzie's death in hopes of saving Michael from Franklin Delano Floyd. This is when DNA was taken which proved that little Michael was not Floyd biological child. Floyd's parental rights were severed and he ended up kidnapping the school principal, and murdering Michael. Karen did the right thing and the monster still came. My only wish would have been for DCF to have been called while Suzie was alive and perhaps they both could have gotten out. Perhaps, they could have found an abused women and children's support center.
Additionally, the fact that she was pregnant by another man leads me to understand that, as a sex worker, she was having unprotected sex in a time when AIDS was beginning to blaze through high risk communities. Magic Johnson would announce his HIV Positive status less than one year later, at the time considered a death sentence.
An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year – more than 2,000 children every day. An estimated 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before age 18. Yet, only 1 in 3 will tell anyone. https://childwatch.org/statistics/
So Many Other Survivors
We have heard so many of these terrible stories, Elizabeth Smart, the 3 girls trapped in the house for 10 years, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, and Jaycee Lee Dugard. While Suzie was not entrapped, she was mentally and emotionally trapped early her entire life.
There is a case currently making headlines of a 10 year old girl that was raped, became pregnant by her rapist. She then received an abortion, thank goodness! But her life is forever altered and her rapist is currently being prosecuted.
This little girl is not alone. She is obviously, not the first. She will not be the last. We must do better at protecting children, we must do better at stopping predators, and we must do better at stopping the creation of predators.
This documentary was brought to us by Director Skye Borgman. Borgman also created Abducted in Plain Sight, and Murdered and Missing in Montana. All three of these stories are captivating as they tackle extremely difficult content.
Here are the questions I could not shake:
1. Would this story be so popular on Netflix if Suzie was not a beautiful white girl?
2. Has it captivated our attention because of the horrific nature of the sex crimes and murders?
3. Or, is it that the truth is more unbelievable than fiction? Because the story is sadly real?
4. Unfortunately, no one ever stopped these abuses and crimes from happening then, BUT would we stop them today?
5. What value do we place on women and children in our society?
6. Do we think parents and society have learned from stories like these to become better protectors of their children?
7. How many people are living in similar circumstances right now?
8. He went from being abused to abuser, to sex trafficker. What was that like for her?
9. She could have left or told someone of her circumstances but never did. Why? Was it because it was the 80s, and no one talked about these things, and a lack of support? Was it Stockholm Syndrome? Was it just impossible to see a way out because it was all she knew?
10. What makes a monster, and if someone thinks they are a monster what should they do to help themselves before they hurt someone? Doesn't it seem like we are always reactionary?
11. Are predators becoming more savvy because of technology?
12. Do stories like this inspire other predators, while raising awareness of heinous sex crimes?
13. Are more victims speaking out and stopping their abuse?
14. Are fewer people being abused because of heightened awareness?
15. Has the Me Too Movement and documentaries like this empowered people to feel less shame about speaking out?
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