Case Vignette 2: Jeff Langer
Jeff Langer is a 19 year old unemployed Caucasian high school dropout from a rural town outside of Lexington, KY. He lives with his parents in an uneasy alliance and spends much of his time with friends who abuse alcohol and drugs. Jeff hates gays and lesbians. When he was 6 years old, he was sexually abused by an older male relative. He never told anyone about the abuse, but he has developed an overwhelming level of homophobia that startles his family and even worries his friends. He sees homosexuality everywhere and frequently accuses straight people of being gay. The accusations have resulted in fights with Jeff usually getting the worst end of the fight. He is filled with rage against gay people that has a toxic effect on his life.
Because Jeff is physically weak and can only show his homophobia when he is high on drugs or alcohol, he has taken to parking his car outside known gay or lesbian bars and clubs. He waits until someone comes out of the club or bar who appears to be drunk or defenseless. He then gets out of the car with a baseball bat and beats the person to unconsciousness. He has done this six times and has gotten away with all six beatings. When he is done with the beatings, he feels empty and cries. What he has done is wrong and he knows it, but his remorse and calmness last only weeks before they are displaced with his growing rage toward gay people.
In a final act of extreme anger, Jeff beat and killed and older man who left a bar frequented by gay men after most of the other patrons had left. It turned out to be a janitor who was straight. When Jeff saw it on the news the next day, he cried in his room, went to the bathroom, and slit his wrists. Although he lost a considerable amount of blood, his parents found him and his life was saved in the ER by, ironically enough, a gay doctor. Jeff is now in jail waiting for his trial. His fellow inmates have decided to have sex with him as much as they can, and he has been anally raped eight times. Because he is on suicide watch, he is unable to kill himself. The guards are aloof during the rapes, thinking he gets what he deserves.
Jeff was sentenced to 25 years to life after a court trial attended by many gay people. The audience in the trial brought signs to into the courtroom, which humiliated Jeff. They called him a “Closet Queer” suggesting that Jeff’s anger toward gays was really a form of denial of his own leanings toward homosexuality. Secretly, Jeff had found himself attracted to men and wouldn’t admit it, but in prison, Jeff has come out of the closet. He is the “wife” of one of the prisoners who, in exchange for sex, protects Jeff from some of the more brutal inmates.
In treatment group for perpetrators of hate crimes that Jeff is required to attend, Jeff has admitted to being attracted to men, but denies that he is gay. He says that his relationship in prison is based upon the need to survive but he doesn’t enjoy the sexual parts of the relationship.
1. People who are molested as children suffer severe trauma because of the experience, but few of them develop the degree of rage shown by Jeff. What other factors might have contributed to Jeff’s severe homophobia (i.e., risk and protective, systemic influences). Discuss sexual abuse of males and how it is perceived by both the victim and societal expectations of males.
2. Discuss Jeff’s anguish at being attracted to men and why it seems to be a key reason for his homophobia. Discuss the impact of societal perceptions of homophobia and internal homonegativity and provide 2/3 ways to assist clients to work through these external expectations and internal perceptions.
3. Our text describes rape in prison as “muted in society” and comments on the lack of empirical research about incidences of victimization. Why do you think so little has been done to address this form of violence? What measures should social workers take to help protect prisoners? What factors contribute to the “he deserves it” perspective society has toward sexual violence/perpetrators?