Gypsy Rose Blanchard deserves to be happy

Understanding victims of abuse and abuse dynamics

If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you know who Gypsy Rose Blanchard is. If you’re not familiar with her or just don’t know a whole lot about her, here’s a brief overview: Gypsy Rose was a chronically ill young girl with multiple serious illnesses, including muscular dystrophy, Leukemia, asthma, sleep apnea, a seizure disorder, and many more ailments that physically and mentally disabled her. 

Her caregiver was her mom, Claudine Blanchard, aka DeeDee. DeeDee and Gypsy were Hurricane Katrina survivors as well, prompting various charities to donate to them, and they were even gifted a house by Habitat for Humanity that could accommodate Gypsy and all her needs. They appeared to be a beautiful story about a mother and her daughter who were beating the odds and living the happiest life they could. 

However, in June of 2015, DeeDee was found murdered in their home with Gypsy nowhere to be found. As police investigated, they discovered that DeeDee had been murdered by Gypsy’s then-boyfriend, Nicolas Godejohn, who Gypsy then ran away with. It was revealed that Gypsy actually wasn’t sick at all; DeeDee had been faking the illnesses for years, and severely abusing Gypsy in the process. Gypsy was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in planning the murder, but was given an early release this past December.  

Obviously, there’s a lot going on here. This is considered a textbook case of Munchausen by Proxy, now known as Factitious Disease Imposed on Another (FDIA), a mental illness where a person fakes illnesses in another person for financial gain or for their own satisfaction. While it can never be known for sure, it is likely that DeeDee was doing this to satisfy some urge she had. Before Gypsy’s birth, it is suspected she had been poisoning her stepmother. 

After Gypsy Rose’s release from prison, there was significant debate about whether she should have been released at all. Some argue that she deserves life in prison like Godejohn for her part in planning the murder of DeeDee. They argue that Gypsy should have just told someone she was being abused, called the police, ran away, or did anything other than kill her mother. 

While I obviously do not condone murder, I find it frustrating that people are trying to put themselves on a moral and intellectual high-horse by spouting the “If you’re being abused, just leave!” rhetoric. Leaving a long-term abuser is one of the hardest things for someone to do, especially if that abuser is your own mother. 

The extent of the mistreatment that Gypsy went through is horrific and angering. She was failed multiple times by multiple medical personnel since she was a small child. A dentist removed her teeth, a doctor removed her saliva glands and inserted a feeding tube into her body, and she was being given medications for seizures that she was never recorded having. All because DeeDee was able to sweet-talk doctors into believing that Gypsy was sick. I am certain that Gypsy’s lifespan has probably been shortened due to this; she is going to experience long-term consequences due to her mother’s abuse. 

You have to remember, this all started when Gypsy was a literal baby. Gypsy grew up being told by doctors, her mother, and everyone around her that she was sick. She genuinely believed she was ill for most of her life. Granted, she did know some of it was a lie; she knew she could walk and didn’t need the wheelchair, and she knew she could still grow hair despite DeeDee saying Gypsy was undergoing chemo.

This is where DeeDee’s physical abuse starts coming into play. If Gypsy would say something that implied that she wasn’t as sick as DeeDee wanted everyone to believe, DeeDee would strike Gypsy with her fists, a clothing hanger, or other objects behind closed doors. She would drug Gypsy with Xanax and other meds, and even physically restrain her in her room.  

DeeDee also isolated Gypsy from the outside world. Gypsy was pulled out of school at an early age, had no friends, and her internet usage was heavily monitored. She was rarely allowed to talk to her own father (DeeDee had convinced Gypsy that her father was abusive). 

Who was Gypsy supposed to go to for help? Doctors and CPS were turning a blind eye to any suspicions they had, and DeeDee had lied to the local police that Gypsy was “mentally incompetent.” Anyone who got too close to Gypsy was pushed away by DeeDee. If Gypsy fought back against DeeDee, even a little, the punishment was severe physical and emotional abuse. She wasn’t allowed to talk to her other family, and her only real connection was with her life-long abuser.  

Gypsy has stated that she regrets having her mother killed. Obviously, it was a horrible decision and it should have never gotten to that point. However, Gypsy was failed continually by so many people, and I find it unfair that the blame for her abuse is being put on her. It is easy for someone on the outside to say “just walk away.” That mentality is the most ignorant, unsympathetic, and simple-minded excuse to blame a victim. Think critically and empathetically, just for a minute.  

What would have happened if Gypsy had tried to tell someone, call the police, or just tried to walk out of the house? Do you think the woman who had put her through years of intense physical, emotional, and medical abuse, who had gone to great lengths to convince the world that Gypsy was incompetent would’ve just folded and said “Oh no, I’ve been found out!” You have to think from Gypsy’s perspective: if the person she told didn’t believe her and she was sent back to DeeDee, the consequences would have been hellish. 

Gypsy would be dead right now if she had stayed with DeeDee, I have no doubt about that. You cannot go through multiple intense medical procedures while being filled with drugs you don’t need and live a normal, unaffected life. There are only 2 ways a FDIA situation ends: The lie is found out, or the proxy dies. Just because Gypsy’s life was not in immediate danger does not mean she was safe with DeeDee. All it takes is looking at other FDIA cases, such as that of Lacey Spears and her late son Garnett, to show that these actions eventually turn deadly. Gypsy is truly lucky to be alive. 

I find it distasteful and absurd that people on the internet expect Gypsy to be a perfectly well-adjusted influencer girlboss after everything she’s gone through. They expect her to have perfect social media training and act in a very idealized way. This girl spent her formative years isolated and abused, and then spent almost a decade in prison. Yet, you expect her to have perfect social skills? 

On the other hand, the way I have seen people continue to infantilize Gypsy despite the fact that she’s in her 30’s is gross. After Gypsy talked openly about her relationship with her husband and the fact that they, unsurprisingly, have sex, hundreds of people seemed to turn on Gypsy. Why is that the line? Why does that upset you? 

Gypsy Rose today with her husband, Ryan Anderson. Photo courtesy Getty Images.

While I can find many reasons to have sympathy for Gypsy, I do not have the same sympathy for Nicolas Godejohn. He is the one who made the decision to murder DeeDee, and sexually assaulted Gypsy after the murder (Gypsy had taken Xanax beforehand, meaning she could not have consented to sex). He also has a previous charge of indecent exposure in a McDonald’s. 

I’ve seen people use the excuse of “He has autism, he can’t help it!” but a lot of people have autism and don’t expose themselves in public, sexually assault people, or murder people. We have to stop further stigmatizing people with autism by excusing the abhorrent behavior of certain people on the spectrum.

This is a very unique situation with a lot of nuances. It requires a deeper level of understanding and critical thinking. You need to take a step back and move away from dichotomous thinking if you ever want to have a meaningful conversation about, well, anything. But above all, Gypsy Rose Blanchard deserves to live a happy life after everything she’s been through. 

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