Mary Kay Fualaau (born January 30, 1962), formerly known as Mary Kay Letourneau, is an American schoolteacher who was imprisoned from 1997 to 2004 for having sexual intercourse with her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. She gave birth to two of Fualaau’s children while incarcerated. After her release from prison in 2004, Letourneau married Fualaau and took his name.
Long story short, this is a perfect example of grooming, brainwashing and sexual abuse. It makes me feel nauseous when I see the media treat this story with such sympathy and indifference. Whether this is because the offending teacher is a woman, or because they remain together (or both), they’re wrong to react this way.
The fact is that most people don’t understand this type of abuse. Vili Fualaau is quoted as saying he “knew what [he] was getting [himself] into” or that “[he’s] not a victim”. This isn’t surprising to me.
Before I went to therapy, I argued the same thing. I would have sworn up and down that I knew what I was doing, or that my teacher wasn’t at fault. I wanted to be his equal - I didn’t want to admit to the differences between us. And at the time the abuse started, I truly did think I knew what I was getting myself into, and I did think I consented. But you can’t consent to something you don’t understand, or even have the capacity to comprehend. It’s like someone having you sign a contract without letting you read it.
I am curious to know whether Vili had been to therapy soon after the abuse started..but if the abuse started and essentially never stopped, I don’t know whether therapy would be effective. (Maybe one day I will ask my therapist about it?)
If I had never been to therapy, I know I would never have been able to process the abuse. I wouldn’t understand the reality or the gravity of it, and I would probably harbour unhealthy feelings for my teacher for a long time.
Vili married his abuser and fathered her children. She raped him at twelve, and gave birth to his child. I can’t imagine how much that would strengthen the brainwashing and psychological abuse.
The fact that Vili is now an adult and “consenting” to a relationship with Letourneau doesn’t mean to me that the abuse is over. I don’t care if he is a “consenting adult”. I think he is still that child, being sexually abused, and didn’t get help in time.
Maybe like Jaycee Dugard. And we wouldn’t just shrug at her story and say “welp, she’s an adult now. Makin’ her own choices.” Our hearts break for her. We know that her abuser is still an abuser. He didn’t morph into her loving husband. He raped her, and absolutely brainwashed her.
Mary Kay Letourneau is still a sexual predator, and Vili Fualaau is still a victim of sexual abuse, whether he believes it or not.