HBO's four-hour documentary about Woody Allen abusing his daughter, Dylan, is chilling, to say the least.
Even more chilling is the support you'll find for Allen online when you Google Allen vs Farrow. And I'm not talking about random people supporting him. I'm talking about op-eds in the Chicago Tribune and other prominent publications.
What the actual fuck.
How in the world can there be this much public support for a man who has a proven track record of obsession with younger women?! Young girls, even.
You see this pattern in his movies. Every movie plot involves a forty or fifty-year-old Allen romantically involved with underage girls and young twenty-somethings.
You see this pattern in his marriage to Soon-Yi, one of Mia Farrow's other adopted daughters, whom he started grooming, taking nude photos of, and eventually having sex with when she was just seventeen-years-old during the time Farrow and Allen were still married.
In the documentary, you see the grooming of Mia's daughter, Dylan, who was just a toddler when the abuse started. He began isolating her, taking ownership of her by telling her that she was his child and not Mia's, and frequently insisting she lay down on the bed with him. All grooming tactics that prep a young child to tolerate more invasive abuse.
A nanny even testified to seeing Allen press his face in Dylan's lap while she was sitting on the couch. Dylan herself talked about him breathing on her legs. I believe she was around the age of five when that happened. The head-in-her-lap incident alone was enough to know something was very wrong. And yet there's more—young Dylan told investigators, therapists, and social workers what happened when Allen molested her in the attic. Each time, she told the same story. She was seven.
Despite all of that, people still don't believe her.
Is it surprising? Sadly, no. Is it heart-wrenching? Yes. This is how we treat childhood sexual abuse survivors. We don't believe them.
In my own life, no matter how much proof is out there regarding my own childhood sexual abuse, and then later in my life, abuse I endured at the hands of a sociopathic sexual predator, there are still some who deny any of it happened.
I know the truth because I lived it. Even though it took forty years for my memories of childhood sexual abuse and rape at the hands of my uncle to surface, my subconscious knew what happened every second of every day. And it shaped my life in various ways that didn't seem connected until the flashbacks started. I didn't know why I was incredibly modest, or why when I was intimate for the first time, I just laid there, or why I had to have vaginal surgery in my late teens, or why my mom said potty training me was a complete nightmare, or why I started having panic attacks at the age of 40 when I was in intimate situations, or why I have so few memories of my childhood, or why I as such a people pleaser for most of my life. And this doesn't even cover the most compelling evidence regarding my abuse. You can find that story here.
I was groomed to please from a very young age. Just like Woody groomed Dylan.
Toward the end of the documentary, Dylan talks about childhood sexual abuse being a lifetime sentence. And I have to say, as much as I've healed over the years, I agree with her. Like Dylan, I've been triggered by events in my own life that remind my body and soul of the abuse I endured. I don't see it coming when it happens—it just happens. I recognize that it's my subconscious and my inner child screaming, but it comes out as involuntary shaking, crying, and almost hyperventilating. It even happened at a recent doctor's appointment.
I stand with Dylan and all childhood sexual abuse survivors who not only lived through unimaginable pain, but also live through not being believed.
Thankfully, the #metoo movement has helped shine a light on the childhood sexual abuse epidemic in this country, but we still have a long way to go in terms of believing and supporting survivors. Especially if they're speaking out against charismatic, prominent sociopathic predators who are master manipulators. We still want to believe children are sexually abused by the creepy guy down the street instead of the nice, charming, good-looking guy in the house...in the family.
To those supporting Allen, take a good, hard look at why, despite so much evidence, you don't want to believe grown-up Dylan.
What about little Dylan?
Now, picture your own daughter, niece, or granddaughter...
Can you look her in her eyes and tell her you don't believe her?
RESOURCES FOR CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVORS