While the partial guilty verdict in the New York versus Harvey Weinstein case today does not deliver the full justice that I and the many women who have spoken out about being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein deserve, it does bring a measure of relief.
I was assaulted by Harvey Weinstein and I followed the trial religiously. While it is reassuring to know that Weinstein will serve some time behind bars, we are still in need of a justice system that recognizes how hard these crimes are to report and that respects the trauma women go through when assaulted and in court. The trial should never have looked the way it did.
When this trial began in early January, I was full of hope. The powerful producer who had assaulted me when I was a young actress was finally facing Lady Justice.
For 20 years I had kept silent about my assault, living with feelings of fear, trauma and shame that deeply affected my life and career. Sexual assaults are designed to isolate and intimidate and for all that time, I thought I was alone.
Then, in the fall of 2017, reports of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of predatory behavior broke. Like many others, I found my voice. Since then, over 100 women have spoken out publicly, alleging that they were abused by Harvey Weinstein and the similarities in our stories are undeniable. We couldn’t all be lying or colluding or conspiring to bring one man down. I felt as if we were finally collectively having our day in court.
As we faced those first days of jury selection and opening statements, I had faith that this trial would do even more to bring forward Harvey Weinstein’s criminal behavior and challenge the systems and cultures that allowed a predator to go unchecked for so many years. After all, the injustices that had come to light with the MeToo movement were innumerable. Women had risen up and mobilized the world over to fight for equality, dignity and freedom from sexual harassment and assault. I was optimistic that we would begin to see our justice system catch up with the current culture.
I can say now that I was wholly unprepared for what this trial would actually look like, and as it has unfolded I have gone through more challenging and difficult moments than I can count. I have weathered heartbreak, despair and utter shock at how the witnesses who testified to their experiences of rape and assault by Harvey Weinstein were treated by the defense. And as these women and the choices they made were attacked, I felt as powerless as when I was assaulted.
I watched as they were portrayed as liars and forced to answer questions for hours in an attempt to undermine and discredit their personal accounts of traumatic events. Their morality and character was challenged and they were told that their assaults were a product of their own making.
People who are sexually abused by someone they know routinely suffer from trauma, shame, fear, an imperfect memory of events, and a desire to normalize and control their situation. I felt every insult, every rebuke and every combative question that was lobbied at the courageous women who stood against Weinstein in New York and it made me feel both physically ill and outraged.
This case has been described as a watershed moment for the MeToo movement, a rising up against decades of sexual harassment and abuse by men in power against women who are vulnerable. Harvey Weinstein has been exposed as a sexual predator, the ugly truth of his behavior laid bare for the world to see.
I am devastated by the enormous price those who come forward to report sexual assault still have to pay. The victim-shaming and character assassination that goes on in the criminal court system where sexual assault is concerned is inhumane, not to mention the very real effects that speaking out has on the careers and personal lives of all survivors. While we do it for justice, for others who have been harmed and in the hope it won’t happen to anyone else, it is at great sacrifice — and it shouldn’t be. If we want victims to continue to speak out and their abusers brought to justice, we, as a society, have to do better. I am committed to that change, as are many. As this case moves now to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, we will continue to speak out, we will never stop fighting for fairness and justice and yes, we believe her.
Having denied all allegations of non-consensual sex, Harvey Weinstein was convicted today of sexual assault and rape in the third degree. He faces further charges in Los Angeles
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