In case you’re somehow unaware of the controversy, last month the decision by the Golden Globes chose to honor actor Woody Allen started a firestorm of outrage. Why? Well, people may not remember, but back in the early 1990’s Allen’s then 7-year-old daughter Dylan accused him of molesting her. Dylan is notoriously private and has, for the most part, refused to comment on the situation (with the exception of statements made for a Vanity Fair article last year). Until now.
Yesterday, The New York Times published a gut-wrenching open letter penned by Dylan Farrow calling out Hollywood and the media for its whitewashing of her molestation accusations. I think it’s important to note that Allen was never formally charged with anything and is considered innocent in the eyes of the law. But once you delve into the details of the original case (you can read the official court papers here), the evidence is compelling. Seriously, read the Vanity Fair piece I linked to above, it’s eye opening to say the least. The point is, I believe (and always have believed) Dylan, and her open letter just solidifies that.
As another survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Dylan’s words ring true again and again in the piece:
“…when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. “
” I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.”
Dylan’s letter has been met with an overwhelming amount of support. The hashtag #DylanFarrow has been trending since yesterday afternoon and most of the tweets I’ve read are a mixture of supportive and outraged:
Of course, like the majority of people who open up about their abuse, Dylan’s had her fair share of detractors too. They run the gamut from insisting that there was no evidence (which simply isn’t true, if you read the court files) to calling Dylan a whore, a liar and much, much worse. What I don’t understand is what these people think Dylan has to gain from speaking out. As I mentioned above, she is notoriously private, going as far as to change her name and attempt to keep it out of the press. Speaking out in the past certainly wasn’t easy, either. According to Dylan:
” I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true.”
I know all too well the toll that this process takes on you. It’s humiliating, and dehumanizing. It makes you doubt yourself and blame yourself, especially when people won’t believe you. I can’t imagine how much worse that feeling must be when the people who refuse to believe you are famous and influential. I can’t imagine how horrifying it must be to have to see your abuser’s face and work constantly in the media. Dylan touched on this in her letter:
“All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.”
She goes on to courageously call out directly many of the stars that have made Allen’s continued fame possible:
“What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?”
Judging by the amount of accolades Allen’s newest movie is getting, and the constant talk of “separating the art from the artists,” I would say yes. Yes, they have forgotten her. And it’s sickening.
I don’t know about you, but I stand with Dylan Farrow. As a child who also wasn’t believed. As a survivor of the same type of abuse. And most importantly, as a human being I stand with her.