I was thinking, if I don’t speak out, I’ll regret it on my death bed.” Dylan Farrow
Dylan Farrow, 28, is the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. In 1992, at age 7, she accused Woody Allen of sexually abusing her. The ensuing custody battle case wound its way through the courts eventually giving Mia custody of the children and exonerating Mr. Allen of child molestation. Frank Maco, a Connecticut prosecutor on the case, admitted that there was enough evidence – “probable cause” – to charge Mr. Allen with molestation, but that he chose not to pursue it because he didn’t want to traumatize Dylan any further.
Nicolas Kristoff’s blog post: nytimes.com/ontheground prepares us for Dylan Farrow’s painful Open Letter about her molestation, as a child, at the hands of her dad, Film maker Woody Allen. He shares the back story of this family tragedy; including the fact that he reached out to Woody Allen for comments on both articles and to address Dylan’s 1992 allegations of abuse. Mr. Allen declined to comment. The question that kept coming up as I read both articles was: What Would I Do? What Would You Do?
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. Dylan Farrow via NYTimes
Reading Dylan Farrow’s Open Letter was quite upsetting. It broke my heart and left me wondering why our society won’t fully accept that, like the rest of us, celebrities have flaws; they have proclivities that are objectionable too. It took enormous courage for Dylan to step back into the limelight and write about an incredibly painful time in her life. Taking the time to craft a letter detailing memories of molestation is never easy. It demands a willingness to expose oneself to both criticism and care… this was not an easy feat for her.
What would I do? First of all, speaking up about the abuse takes courage and is a critical step to exposing the perpetrator(s). According to RAINN.Org (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), 60% of victims don’t file a report. It is important to let someone know. In Dylan’s case, she told her mother, Mia. It is also imperative to file a police report because the police will help document information needed for that first step to prosecution. Seeking legal counsel and definitely therapeutic care are necessary steps to ensure the offender is held accountable and the healing process can begin.
But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child. Dylan Farrow via NYTimes
What can we do as parents? What can we do to protect our sons and daughters? I like RAINN’s five tips: Talk openly and build trust so they won’t need to hide information from you. Teach them safety rules and what’s unacceptable touching. Empower them to speak out and say NO to abuse. Implement safety guidelines and parental controls on the internet through the Google Family Safety Center and have regular discussions about online and offline safety with your kids. Educate yourself and your family about the warning signs of abuse and act quickly to stop it. If you’re a teacher, pay attention to your students and report your concerns to the authorities. Each of us can be an extra pair of eyes and help stop abuse.
RAINN’s statistics show that 2/3 of assaults are committed by people we know, and 38% of rapes by friends. The lingering pain that comes from such a betrayal of trust can be debilitating and, when we factor in a family member, the damage to the relationship can be permanent. Parents of young children must start early educating them about sexual abuse; especially about inappropriate touching. If you or your child has been victimized, don’t blame yourself for what happened. It’s not your fault. Report it to the authorities. Seek the support of trusted friends and family and the help of a skilled therapist; both are key steps to healing and full recovery. Healing will come with time…