YouTube’s former golden boy and the man once touted as “Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon” David Dobrik has finally issued a lengthy apology for not believing victims of sexual assault and although it’s not mine or your place to accept his apology, there’s a lot we can learn from it.
If you need to catch up to speed with the whole situation, you can read this timeline of every allegation made to-date, but basically, Dobrik – and his Vlog Squad – have been accused of enabling sexual assault, racism and a slew of other horrible things.
But after weeks of radio-silence, Dobrik finally issued a real apology overnight, in which he apologised to the victims, discussed his failure to acknowledge the power imbalance he benefits from and – most notably – admitted that he refused to believe that his childhood friend was capable of such horrific things.
“I also want to acknowledge the women who spoke out against Dom in 2018,” he said, referring to the allegations of rape and sexual assault currently involving former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis.
“I’m talking about Ally and I’m talking about other girls that addressed their problems privately or publicly. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you guys. I’m sorry that I took Dom’s word for what happened in those certain situations and I didn’t believe you.”
Obviously, the only people who are qualified to accept this apology are the victims themselves, but throughout the video, Dobrik said something that feels particularly relevant given the news we’ve seen across Australia and the world in recent weeks.
“And not only did I not believe you but I made a joke of what kind of a person Dom was because I couldn’t wrap my head around a childhood friend of mine doing this to people and actually hurting people and I’m sorry for that,” he said.
But this problem isn’t exclusive to David Dobrik, and honestly, I don’t think the situation is as simple as just cancelling him and ruining his career, because this is an issue that we see every single day.
David didn’t believe – or didn’t want to believe – that his childhood friend was capable of inflicting such pain and trauma onto another person, and that’s a feeling that many of us have experienced. So instead of holding his friend accountable for his actions, he brushed it off as a joke in a state of denial.
“Not only did I discredit you, but I platformed Dom. And not only did I platform Dom, but I platformed the subject of sexual assault in a negative way where I made jokes about it and I reinforced that kind of behaviour and I am so sorry and I really let not only you, but a lot of people down,” he said.
But the reality is, Dobrik’s friend *was* capable of doing these things, and your childhood best mate is too.
And although you may not have the same following or influence as David Dobrik or his Vlog Squad, you still have a moral responsibility to hold your mates accountable.
In Dobrik’s case, it was a childhood friend and a night of drinking at home, but it could also be your best mate at footy in a night of celebrating after a grand final (like we saw with Jarryd Hayne), or a coworker who is being wildly inappropriate at knock-off drinks. The situation is irrelevant, but the reality is, many people who commit sexual offences have people in their lives who don’t believe they’re capable of it. And by burying your head in the sand and echoing the “not my friends” bullshit, you’re a part of the problem.
If your mates *really* are the great people you hope they are, they would want you to hold them accountable for their own behaviour. So if your friend sends an unsolicited dick pic, calls a woman a whore for not wanting to date him or tries to go home with someone who is clearly too drunk to consent, do something about it. Because yes, even your best mate is capable of being an abuser.
Take away the viral fame and millions of dollars and David Dobrik is like any of us. He’s a 20-something-year-old man who didn’t want to believe his friends were capable of sexual assault. But ultimately, by living in denial, he became a huge part of the problem.
If you agree that David Dobrik fucked up by not doing more to protect the alleged victims in this situation, or by choosing to believe his friend over the accusers, I implore you to look at your own life and reflect on times that you’ve probably done the same.
I’m not here to defend David Dobrik, and I think he has undoubtedly fucked up in this situation and needs to right his wrongs before he can expect any sort of forgiveness. But this issue is far bigger than David Dobrik, and it’s time that we all learn from this and hold our friends accountable because yes, your mates are capable of being abusers too.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.