After over two decades of silence, Dylan Farrow has spoken out about the alleged inappropriate touching her father, Woody Allen, had done to her at the age of 7. Now 28 and happily married, Farrow has spoken out via an open letter published on the New York Times blog site.
It was apparently her estranged father’s latest Oscar nomination that triggered Farrow’s desire to speak out. She recounts, with simple, poignant words, the memories of her, Woody Allen, and toy trains, alone in the attic. Hers are words that seem to ring with truth, although Allen has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and was never charged with any crime.
Dylan Farrow makes her anger palpable at her trauma being effectively ignored because of her father’s star power. She calls out several of those A-listers who have had screen time in Allen’s films, ranging from Scarlett Johansson to Alec Baldwin to Allen’s ex, Diane Keaton. She wonders aloud whether any of them would have let their children alone with Woody Allen.
Keaton had been effusive in her praise of the prolific director at this year’s Golden Globe awards, which sparked a firestorm by Ronan and Mia Farrow. For her part, Mia Farrow effectively tweeted a yawn at her ex’s tribute, saying she was going to change the channel after she grabbed some ice cream.
Ronan Farrow, however, was definitely in the role of protective brother. He asked, via Twitter, whether those giving the tribute had acknowledged that the director had been accused of molesting a 7-year-old two decades earlier. His mother retweeted her son’s words, but added nothing further.
Dylan Farrow speaking out gives a voice to so many who may continue to feel voiceless. She notes in her open letter that there are sexual assault victims who feel scared and alone, and without a doubt, she’s right. Many are stuck in the belief that they can’t say anything about the assault, largely due to the power the assaulter has over the victim. Because Dylan Farrow had been victimized by one of the most powerful directors for the time in Hollywood, there was no one who seemed to believe her except for the select few she refers to as her heroes.
The fact that Dylan Farrow speaks so openly about experiencing mental health troubles that plagued her following the alleged assault may be somewhat surprising, but the fact of her experiencing them is not uncommon. Many victims of sexual assault experience a wide range of mental health issues for years in the aftermath of their sexual assault. They may also experience bouts of anxiety, depression, or in extreme instances, suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder.
By speaking out, Dylan Farrow has put a celebrity face on something that has afflicted so many. Certainly, speaking out is an act of courage, and it’s with those small bits of courage that survivors of sexual assault are able to speak out and move forward. Dylan Farrow’s case is not new, nor is it unusual. It’s incredibly tragic, and it remains to be seen what good, if any, will come from her disclosure some two decades after the initial accusations were leveled against Woody Allen. It can only be hoped that she will ultimately find some level of peace in finally disclosing as an adult what she wasn’t supposed to say as a child.
Thus far, Dylan Farrow’s open letter has created a lot of questions without any real answers. One of the biggest questions some may be asking is why she chose now, some 20 years in the future, to make full disclosure. Some may say that she has found new courage as an adult where very few supported her through the devastating accusations when she was a child. Unfortunately, this disclosure as an adult will undoubtedly leave some thinking she may be attempting to capitalize on her father’s latest award. That will mar the true heroism in Dylan Farrow’s words, and that is the biggest tragedy in this whole story.
Editorial by Christina St-Jean