Walt Disney World: Change Your Policies Regarding Sexual Assault
(trigger warning for content)
"To be honest, I feel more violated by the way Disney treated me than I feel from being raped, and I’m worried for every other person that has been in my situation."
In this petition, we are requesting that Disney:
A) Apologize to Dana Wierzbicki for her experience with their inadequately trained staff
B) WDW make changes to their policies so that any future victims receive adequate care, counseling and advice, and are treated respectfully during this process.
C) WDW ensure that all program participants are given standard, verbal discussions of appropriate contact with other staff (getting consent, not ignoring a lack of consent)
The original article is here. http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/disney-rape
We recommend reading it in full, but to summarize, Dana was raped during her Disney College Program experience. She felt embarrassed and unsure about coming forward, but finally did because she was concerned about the safety of others in the program and wanted WDW to be aware of the situation. She first met with a staff counselor, then later with an individual from public relations, to discuss this. It took her multiple days and run arounds to reach the public relations employee. Everyone she talked to before that, in multiple departments, had no idea whom she should talk to. This in itself is a big problem since many victims, who are already enduring the trauma of being sexually assaulted, would give up after being told multiple times that no one knew where they should go.
Below is the type of treatment she received from individuals who were supposed to be there to help her.
To quote the article:
“Well, now you know not to be hanging around boys in the middle of the night. You know what they want.” (Employee assistance counselor)
"She continued to make excuses for my rapist. She asked where he was from and I told her, “France.” She remarked that “cultural differences” were probably part of the problem, telling me that the French have a “different view of love” than we Americans do." (counselor again)
"Are you sure you're not reporting this as a rape because you wanted him to be your boyfriend and he said no?" (employee relations)
Many more to be found in the link.
Regardless of the circumstances of the individual case, this sets a terrifying precedence for future victims seeking help and counseling, if the first instinct Disney's own employees have is to find a way to blame the victim. This is a perpetuation of rape culture, which encourages rapists by DIScouraging victims to come forward because of the likelihood of judgment and the implications that the rape was their fault/them asking for it.
The rapist is likely back in France now, so this petition is not really about him. It is about needing Disney to adequately provide for college aged teenagers and adults in its care. They are employees and they are also students, and Disney bears some responsibility for guiding them, and providing them with adequate assistance should something terrible transpire regardless.
People starting out in the Disney College Program should be given resource numbers. If they forget and have to ask, other staff members should know the appropriate referral number so that the victim can be directed to an employee who can assist them. I have asked my Disney program blog followers to let me know about their experiences with the Disney student intern programs to get an overall view, and they all gave varied responses to what level of information they received, but to summarize in the statement one individual provided, "I have absolutely no idea about what resources would be available if you were sexually assaulted." We want consistent, across the board, adequate distribution of resource information and trained individuals able to handle this.
(as a note, we have been trying to get Disney to respond to this by constantly emailing them and commenting on their multiple facebook walls over the past four days. No one, as of now, has received a response, and Disney has been deleting every mention of it from their FB walls, which is why we are resorting to a petition in hopes that they will finally respond.)
Thanks everyone for your help so far, please forward this if you get the chance. My own involvement in this came about after a discussion Dana and I had about her article, and wanting to help her more. I am simply tired of feeling like all we can do is sit on the sidelines and say, "well, I guess that was expected." This is a time for new expectations to be created. Disney can be a part of that... if they want to be. -Mari/FD
~this petition has been read by and is supported by Dana Wierzbicki~
- Walt Disney World College Program
Walt Disney World
- Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Thomas O. Staggs (and J. Robinson, his administrative assistant, whose email is listed)
- Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks
- President, Walt Disney World Co.
Meg Gilbert Crofton
Please change your College Program policies regarding sexual assault. Your students/employees need to receive adequate instruction not only about basic consent, but where they can receive help when they need it. Your staff need to know not only where to direct these employees, but also how to appropriately deal with the situation if and when it arises again.
Looking for ways to blame the victim for the crime committed against her as the counselor and employee relations individuals did, rather than providing resources and helping her move past the experience in a positive and supportive way, is rape culture. It's lucky we even heard about her story, because that alone would shut down many victims and prevent them from seeking further remedy.
We do not want an end to Disney. Like Dana when she originally applied for your program, many of us have been passionate about the company and have been heartbroken over your lack of response to this situation. Instead of trying to sweep this under the PR rug, please apologize to Dana and make changes to how you run the program so that this does not happen again to someone else.
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