As revelations continue to come out regarding the sexual misconduct that’s run rampant in the entertainment industry (and politics, and… you know what? It’s fucking everywhere), it has opened the doors for more personal stories to also emerge. Stories of victims, of witnesses. Stories not aimed at bringing down a villain but at exposing the culture that allowed the behavior to take root and thrive. And stories that reveal the personal cost and the healing that victims go through along the way.
Today two such stories hit the internet — not through media outlets but through personal social media accounts. Ellen Page posted a lengthy note to her Facebook page, discussing her experiences working with Brett Ratner on X-Men: The Last Stand (he was awful), harassment she suffered as a teenage actress, and her regrets about working with Woody Allen. Anthony Edwards also released an essay, posted on Medium, where he reveals that he was molested by designer Gary Goddard, whom he met at age 12. His story is the journey from victim to survivor: the psychological ramifications and the struggle to come to terms with the experience.
You should go read their statements in full, but we wanted to share short excerpts here, because it takes enormous courage to speak up like they are doing — and there is power in being heard.
From Ellen Page:
When I was sixteen a director took me to dinner (a professional obligation and a very common one). He fondled my leg under the table and said, “You have to make the move, I can’t.” I did not make the move and I was fortunate to get away from that situation. It was a painful realization: my safety was not guaranteed at work. An adult authority figure for whom I worked intended to exploit me, physically. I was sexually assaulted by a grip months later. I was asked by a director to sleep with a man in his late twenties and to tell them about it. I did not. This is just what happened during my sixteenth year, a teenager in the entertainment industry.
Look at the history of what’s happened to minors who’ve described sexual abuse in Hollywood. Some of them are no longer with us, lost to substance abuse and suicide. Their victimizers? Still working. Protected even as I write this. You know who they are; they’ve been discussed behind closed doors as often as Weinstein was. If I, a person with significant privilege, remain reluctant and at such risk simply by saying a person’s name, what are the options for those who do not have what I have?
And this is from Anthony Edwards:
One of the most tragic effects of sexual abuse in children is that the victims often feel deeply responsible — as if it is somehow their fault. With their sick form of control, abusers exploit a child’s natural desire to bond. The victims are required to play by the abuser’s rules, or else they are “out” — banished from the only world they know. Abusers are successful when they keep control of that little world — a world that is based on fear. The use of fear to control and manipulate can be both obvious and subtle. Abusers will often use the word “love” to define their horrific actions, which constitutes a total betrayal of trust. The resulting damage to the emotional development of a child is deep and unforgivable. Only after I was able to separate my experience, process it, and put it in its place could I accept this truth: My abuse may always be with me, but it does not own me. For far too many years, I held onto the idea that love was conditional — and so I would look for someone or something other than my higher self to define those conditions and requirements for me.
Please go read their full accounts. I’m sure they won’t be the last stories we hear on this painful, and prevalent, subject.