February 4, 2014

A Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor’s Retort to: ‘An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow.’


People are a Little Too Quick to Jump On the Bully Bandwagon…

(No disrespect to Jennifer who wrote the ej article, I’m simply suggesting another viewpoint.)

Yeah, I read Dylan’s letter. And then I read another take on it written by Robert B. Wiede. It made me stop and think.

I admit, I’ve been guilty of sentencing Mr. Allen to perv status based on his relationship with Soon-Yi. But here they are years later, still together.

At 19, my grandmother married a man who was 45. They were judged because of the huge age-gap. Yet she stayed with him until he died. Even though she was in her early 30’s she never remarried and, in fact, was never with another man again. He was good to her and she loved and honoured him. Though certainly a different circumstance, the similarity is that their love was questioned.

All I’m suggesting is that we view both sides of a story before making our judgments. Even if we don’t change our minds, it might give us the opportunity to grow by opening ourselves to another perspective.

A couple things to keep in mind whilst we’re busy judging Woody Allen:

1. Is there proof? Was he charged? Convicted?

2. Statistics suggest that up to one in four women (and one in five men) have been sexually abused. Which of our neighbours is a pedophile? Should we treat them all with disdain, just in case? (Excuse my impassioned sarcasm; I’m trying to make a point.)

3. Getting a hate-on doesn’t help pedophiles lose their inappropriate hard-ons. These people need help. Hurt people hurt people. Where can they go where they can get help without going straight to jail? Alcoholics and drug addicts get a pat on the back for showing up for treatment. Do pedophiles? (But that’s a whole other problem.)

I’m not saying Allen is innocent—or guilty—I don’t know. I am saying we’d best serve ourselves (and others) by getting our facts straight before making a jump to negative judgments.

I don’t have Stockholm Syndrome. I was sexually (and repeatedly) abused as a child (thankfully not by my father), and was plenty pissed off at my abuser when I became an adult and finally remembered it all. The man was, by that time, long since dead, but it took years of therapy, self-sabotage, self-help books and some pretty messed up thinking (and behaving) to get to the point of forgiveness. But I did get there.

Why forgive? Because it feels a lot better. Hello, freedom for me.

I have compassion for Woody (and I’m not a fan of his work) and for Dylan (the need to publicly defame him in such a timely way—when he’s about to receive a major award—to me, seems suspicious and I think comes from a place of pain, not simply: I’ve just become brave enough to do this). They’ve both suffered from these allegations.

I get that both celebrity sensationalism and sex sell, because we the people buy into it. As a childhood sexual abuse “survivor”, I’d like to think that there are more important issues in the world: war, poverty, corporate and government corruption to name a few.

Why is a 20 year old story more important than the children who are dying of starvation right now? Why isn’t that a hot, viral topic? Because Woody Allen is a rich, accomplished and awarded celebrity?

However, one need not look far, sadly, to the many celebrities who have not accomplished inner happiness, to see what little value fame and riches have.

And if Dylan Farrow is remembering it correctly, wouldn’t other survivors be more inspired by a woman, tied to fame or not, who is able to get to a place of peace, freedom, forgiveness and love, in spite of the unfairness of life? I would be.

At some point, we have to take responsibility for our own feelings and lives. We can choose to give up the victim badge, heal and move on.

Instead of being victims or even Survivors, can we instead let this story inspire us to live a life as Thrivers? I am.

Written with love and peace for all.

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Luiz Fernandoreis 

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