Don't Dismiss Her Accusations So Easily

Amanda Bynes accused her father of sexual assault during her childhood on her Twitter on Friday, saying in a succession of disturbing tweets that her father "called me ugly as a child and then asked me if I wanted to have sex with him and I did not know how to respond." Amanda Bynes' allegations against her father are shocking, and they come at the tail end of a deluge of saddening behavior from the 28-year-old actress, who returned to Twitter earlier this week where she announced that she was engaged to her 19-year-old boyfriend, Caleb. Rumors have also been circulating that Bynes attacked a fan in New York, among other reports about the actress who has publicly struggled with her mental health. In her tweets about her father, Rick, Bynes says that living with him was a "total nightmare" and that her mother, Lynn, was complicit in protecting him. Every new development of Amanda Bynes news saddens me, and while I don't think that we should patently believe that everything she says is true, and while I don't know if her allegations of sexual assault are fact or not, I fear that they will be immediately written off as lies because of her mental health issues.

Bynes has already been preyed upon by the media in the reports of her DUI and her subsequent engagement. Media outlets like The Daily Beast and The New York Daily News used incendiary and ableist language to describe Bynes, saying that she had "veered off the rails" and "had wrecked it all again." I worry that this same sort of judgment will be applied to Bynes' allegations of abuse, reducing what could be a very real accusation to the ramblings of a "crazy person." Bynes' mother has already responded in support of her husband, denying Bynes accusations, saying,

Rick has been the best father and husband a family can ask for. He has never abused Amanda or our other children physically or sexually. These accusations are absolutely horrible and could not be further from the truth! These allegations stem from Amanda's mental state at the moment. They have no basis in reality. It saddens me beyond belief that my husband's character could be slandered in such a way.
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The situation is sticky. I want to always, always give someone who says they are a victim of abuse the benefit of the doubt, because I feel like if that belief is not given, then the alleged abuser becomes the one who is protected. However, Bynes does have a history with false allegations. In 2013 when she was arrested in the infamous incident where she tossed a bong out of her apartment window, she claimed, "I was sexually harassed by one of the cops the night before last which is who then arrested me. He lied and said I threw a bong out the window when I opened the window for fresh air. Hilarious. He slapped my vagina. Sexual harassment. Big deal." These allegations were investigated by the NYPD and were ultimately proved false.

But does a previous false accusation mean that any subsequent claim of abuse from Bynes should immediately declared false? It seems more likely to happen in this case because I am sure that she will be called "insane" yet again, and it's disheartening that her mother's statement seemed more focused on denying the claims than on the wellbeing of her daughter. Yes, her mental issues at the moment are a concern, but I wish it seemed like even her family was being more supportive of her. I understand Lynn Bynes wanting to protect her husband's reputation, but the idealist in me also wishes she addressed the severity of her daughter's issues and her desire to help her.

I am not able to make a judgment call on whether or not Amanda Bynes is telling the truth about her father being abusive. I will believe her because I think that as a woman it is my responsibility to believe victims who are crying out for help, because silencing them or writing them off immediately adds to the cycle of silence that allows abusers to continue. However, she could not be telling the truth, and Lynn and Rick Bynes could very well be in the right. I have one plea, though, no matter what: please do not dismiss Bynes' accusations simply because she is "crazy" or "insane."

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