What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: 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.
For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.
When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly did not know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. 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. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.
After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood. 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.
Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.
Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.
But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.
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?
Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.
Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?
to anyone who actually pays attention to my blog: sorry i’m like, rarely to never on here. my life is kind of always extremely crazy. i work two full-time jobs and when i’m not working, i’m pretty much exclusively sleeping or either at band practice/working on songs. so it’s only once in a long while that i can find the time to be on tumblr. thanks for sticking around anyway, if anyone does.
“In an earlier draft Hermione actually was torn between her lifelong friend Gale and her secret crush Peeta. In retrospect it made more sense for her to pursue Edward, though.”—the hp rumor mill next week, probably (via playingfetchwithdinosaurs)
the fact that damon was also running to elena though… he didn’t have a life threatening need to get to her quickly like elena did for him, his situation wasn’t deathly urgent like hers, and yet he needed to feel her and hold her with as much grappling need as she did him… just, wow. damon’s love for elena still continues to amaze me, even this far in.
I think in terms of the bigger picture this is finally the part of the story where the gang falls apart. So far they have managed to fix and brush issues under the rug. But now via Katherine and lack of any bigger threat the issues built up over the years are seeping through and causing chaos. It is time to heal and in doing so things get worse before they get better. The moment Damon and Elena face reality and let go the pieces will start to come together.
i think TVD is going to solve some things now that they kind of went back to old storylines. damon talking about 2x12 (jessica) and 4x16 (with elena)i believe this can be good if they fill the holes they left
Yeah it could be. It’s very normal for Damon to revert back to his bad brother role when he feels out of control because that’s who he believes he is(That’s who I am) and doesn’t think he has changed and needs an external force to change him.
But there was a parallel in the promo:
Stefan: You’re better than this
Elena: Maybe this is the better version of me
Stefan: You’re better than this
Damon: Maybe I’m better like this
So it plays on identity issues and I hope Damon and Elena deal with this once she comes back which I hope is in a few episodes. They both have a lot of identity issues tied to Katherine and I’m writing a post on that.