Every once in a while, I catch myself wondering why the child sex abuse awareness movement (especially in the Catholic Church) has never elicited support from Hollywood A-listers.
Yesterday, Dylan Farrow gave us a painful and personal reminder.
Her immensely brave open letter in the New York Times is raw. She openly accuses Woody Allen and gives details of the abuse. But she goes a step further, naming the Hollywood A-Listers who continue to support Allen.
(Although Allen has not been found guilty in a court of law, he has been accused of abuse by one of his children, and went on to marry his step-daughter.)
The sense of betrayal that Farrow expresses is a universal theme for victims of child sexual abuse. The crime of abuse is horrific enough for a child, but when adults whom the child loves and respects side with the abuser, it is devastating. It drives the victim into a world of shame and silence. I know that feeling first hand.
I also know another feeling that Farrow describes—the sheer disgust as she watches Hollywood elites fawn over Allen, his movies and his continued award nominations. No one in Hollywood will publicly stand up for Farrow, just like no one in Hollywood stood up for the victim of Roman Polanski. Just like no one at Adrian College will stand up for me and the other victims of Thomas Hodgman.
So, now do we do?
We have a call to action—We need to change how we deal with victims of sexual abuse.
1) If you know victims of abuse (and you do), tell them that you love and support them. Tell them you believe them.
2) If you can help a victim report to the police, do it.
3) Open up communication with your children and family members about abuse. Don’t shroud discussions of sex or abuse with shame.
4) Write your legislators about changing laws dealing with child sex crimes. Three bills in California (two dealing with statutes of limitation and another dealing with training reporters) need support.
5) Don’t give your money or allegiance to organizations who engage in legal battles with victims in order to hide abuse and cover-up. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles spent millions trying to keep their crimes secret. So did the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Orange. Publicly admonish those who covered up abuse.
6) Don’t go to Woody Allen movies. Go a step further and don’t support any actor or studio affiliated with Allen.
7) Raise children who are well-armored against abuse. My upcoming book can help you get started. The proposal is done and we are currently looking for an agent/publisher. If you want more information or know a contact who would be interested, email me.