Monday, February 10, 2014

Mia Farrow Might Have Been A Bad Mom But That Doesn't Make Dylan A Liar

I've spent much of the last few weeks reading articles, blog posts, and opinions about the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen situation. There are two things that the supporters of Woody Allen continue to use to back up their support for him:
1. Mia Farrow's actions and inactions disprove Dylan's story.
2. Dylan Farrow could be lying (or brainwashed).

Do We Punish Dylan Farrow For Her Mother's Questionable Choices?

Many people seem to be questioning Dylan's story because of Mia's actions. Questions like: If Mia Farrow was so concerned about Woody Allen's interactions with Dylan, why did she continue her relationship with him? Why did Mia Farrow allow Woody Allen to have contact with her children after he entered into counselling for his inappropriate interactions with Dylan? Did Mia coach Dylan in what to say on the videotape? If Mia is so offended by Woody Allen being honored at the Golden Globes, why did she give permission for them to include her in scenes used in the tribute video?

If you felt suspicious or concerned about someone's interactions with your child, you would not continue in a relationship with this person, allow them to be around the child in question (or your other children), or continue to support their pursuit of adoption of your children. Right? It seems so very clear.

But it isn't always that clear.

Parents do not always protect their children, even when the possibility of sexual abuse is present. My uncle was a convicted child molester; convicted before I was born. It seems like the family would automatically keep this man away from children, but they didn't. One family member told me that she confronted my uncle, and told him that if he ever touched her children, she would kill him. She thought this would deter him from sexually molesting her children. After that conversation, she allowed my uncle to have repeated access to her children over a period of many years. Her threat did not protect them.

My father told me he thought I would be fine spending hours with my uncle each day because my grandparents were also in the house, and surely nothing would happen with them there. Their presence in the house did not protect me.

This isn't a new story.
I am far from the only person whose family did not protect a child from abuse, even when all the signs pointed to something very wrong happening.

I don't understand why Mia Farrow didn't do more to protect Dylan when she was a child, once she realized Woody Allen was acting inappropriately toward her. Mia was in a long-term romantic relationship with Woody Allen. He was not only her romantic partner, but also the person who provided her with a lot of work. Maybe those two things played into her decision-making process. I'm sure we will never know.

Mia Farrow did instruct the babysitters that Allen was not to be left alone with Dylan after he entered into counselling for the inappropriate behavior he exhibited toward Dylan. Maybe, similar to the actions of my family, Mia believed that would be enough to protect her daughter. I'm sure we will never know.

I don't understand why Mia Farrow gave permission for her image to be included in the Golden Globes tribute video. Maybe she thought no one would find out about her consent. Maybe she wanted to be included because a majority of her film work was associated with those Woody Allen films. I'm sure we will never know.

I don't understand why Mia Farrow has supported Roman Polanski, who is unquestionably a child rapist.

I don't understand a lot of things about Mia Farrow. Maybe she is bad mom. Maybe she is a nutcase. Maybe she did the best she could in the early 90's, and would change a lot of things if she could go back in time. But there is one thing I know for sure: Mia Farrow's actions and inactions are not a basis for questioning Dylan Farrow's story.

Dylan Farrow should not be made to answer for the actions of her mother during that time or since. Mia's part in the abuse perpetrated against Dylan (by her choice to continue to allow Woody Allen in their home and give him access to her children) is a matter for Dylan to come to terms with in her own relationship with Mia, but should not be used against Dylan when she speaks out about her story.


Do We Automatically Believe The Victim?

In America, people have a presumption of innocence until they are proven guilty. This is a very important tenant of our judicial system, but people often use it to silence rape and sexual abuse victims. They are so quick to assert the presumption of innocence for the accused that they heap guilt upon the victim by presuming she (or he) is lying.

I choose to presume innocence for Dylan Farrow. I will not believe she is guilty of lying about the abuse she disclosed at the hands of Woody Allen until she is proven guilty.

This is a very involved case, and I am not going to try to take it point by point. I have included several links at the bottom of this post that give a good overview of the case if you would like to read about it in greater detail.

There is, however, one point I do want to discuss. People have pointed to the fact that one of the doctors who examined Dylan Farrow said "there was no evidence of injury to the anal or vaginal area," something that Mia Farrow admitted to in her testimony during the custody case, as an example of why Dylan is lying. This lack of injury does not mean that sexual abuse did not occur. Just as a rape victim doesn't need to be beaten unconscious and covered in bruises for it to have been rape, there will not always be injury to the anal or vaginal area when a child has been sexually molested. The lack of evidence of injury is not why the case did not go to trial. It was, instead, the belief of the prosecutor that Dylan was too fragile to testify in open court.

The story that Dylan Farrow tells is a classic case of a perpetrator grooming their victim. The question of did Woody Allen sexually molest Dylan Farrow does not just rest on that one day in the attic as Allen would have you believe. It started before that with inappropriate behavior on the part of Allen that escalated until Dylan Farrow could no longer hold back the secret of her questions and feelings about the things Allen had done to her. That was the day she disclosed the abuse to her mother.

Woody Allen has long asserted that Mia Farrow made up these allegations to get back at him for his relationship with her daughter Soon-Yi, and then brainwashed Dylan into believing them. His story plays into the myth that women are just waiting around every corner to accuse a man of rape in order to ruin his life. This myth continues to be perpetuated, even though studies show that false reports make up only 2% of rapes reported.

Like many survivors of sexual abuse, Dylan Farrow has been dismissed by many people as a liar. Even when people do not specifically use that word to describe her, it is implied each time they question the credibility of her story based on the fact that Woody Allen deserves a presumption of innocence. But in the face of opposition, of repeated investigations and questioning, and the love of a nation for her abuser, Dylan Farrow has not backed down from the truth of what happened in the attic or in the years leading up to that event. She has stood firm in her story, and she deserves our support.


Do We Separate The Art From The Artist?

One last thing: Woody Allen as an artist. Do we separate his art from his life? It is a valid question; one that has been asked about many artists. I wonder if, in Woody Allen's case, we can instead use the art to get further insight into the artist. In a recent article in Esquire Magazine, Stephen Marche takes a second look at Woody Allen's body of work that is chilling. I encourage you to read it.

That examination of Allen's words for film and stage is almost as chilling as these words he spoke about himself in a 1976 People Magazine interview,
"I'm open-minded about sex. I'm not above reproach; if anything, I'm below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him." Allen pauses. "Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone," he ventures helplessly. "I admit to it all." 


*Links to articles and public statements about the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen case:

14 comments:

  1. I haven't really followed the story point by point as you have so I really can't comment to the fact of whether or not i think he did it. What I have seen with my own eyes in real life, is that many women will let men abuse their children with full knowledge of what is going on and do nothing. Mostly because they believe the man is in love with them and they have low self worth which enables it. The movies Precious illustrates this point and I believe is based on a true story. I know a woman who did this herself and it disgusts me. I would not be surprised is the Hollywood establishment and the need to work kept Mia Farrow's mouth shut and eyes closed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here is what blows my mind. He is now in a relationship with ANOTHER DAUGHTER of the woman!! So you and I both know that started long before she was of legal age and well hidden. I have never liked Woody Allen, period. Maybe because I sensed his quirk for this. But I believe he did it, I believe he has paid and hidden a lot. My mom stayed for comfort and security, she will tell you that. Thinking she could keep it from happening again and she couldn't.. so yeah I believe her absolutely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Tracy for posting! I agree that the validity of the mother does not change the validity of the child!!! I believe Dylan too Angel! For sure I do! I just read this article http://stopabusecampaign.com/feature/4224 It brings up lots of questions about how custody cases are handled! I read Dylan's response to Woody's reply. She says her story has never changed about what happened.

      Delete
  3. I have been trying to write a coherent, cogent post about this that wasn't littered with bitterness and f-bombs to the people who don't believe Dylan. It has been impossible for me. Thank you for doing the impossible. Thank you for this post, which I will be sharing from the rooftops. Thank you. You are awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  4. THANK YOU for writing this. I couldn't put it into words. It's too personal of a topic for me to invite a debate.

    One thing I thought about in response to Woody Allen's recent response was that in many cases, children will come forward after the abuse has stopped (or during a "break" in the abuse) - this is what happened in my family. Woody Allen was trying to assert in that article that the timing wasn't right for the abuse because of his relationship with Soon-Yi but a) those two things can happen simultaneously and b) a child's (and abuse victim's) sense of time can be off and Dylan could very well have been talking about something that had happened months before and yet felt/said it happened yesterday.

    These cases are so, so complicated. Kids can be difficult to interpret and they can be quite fragile when it comes to their parents and authority figures. My sister was thankfully saved from testifying against her abuser in court at the age of 7 only because the police were able to tape record a conversation where he asked my sister not to tell anyone. That wouldn't have even been permitted in court but they were able to use it to get him to agree to a plea bargain (which UGH, he ended up with a 14 year sentence but only served 7 because of good behavior - and of course now he is a repeat offender). In our family's case, this man hurt at least four children and yet served only a portion of time based on a tenuous case built on one child who came forward as was viewed as credible. There was no rape kit - the abuse had happened over years and there was no visible damage. Physical damage is only part of it anyway - the mental damage is so much worse.

    Anyway. Thank you for writing this and continuing to speak out against child abuse.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tracie,
    As per usual, you have written an incredibly heart-felt and thought-provoking essay. I do not know what happened and unfortunately, as is often the case with molestation, we cannot know other than the word of the victim. I agree that Mia Farrow is her own piece of work and should be separated from the conversation. I do know this. Dylan Farrow is a well-spoken young woman and I find her immensely truthful. I hope that she finds peace and I appreciate that you spoke out about many of the myths that surround this delicate issue. I agree that there is often little to no physical evidence. It is important that be understood. You are such a stellar example of survivor-hood and I am proud to know you. Your voice is so strong and valuable. Keep speaking. The world needs you.
    Traci

    ReplyDelete
  6. I hate that victims are always doubted and made to feel this way. Thanks for sharing this post...it is something we all need to hear.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your bravery and courage to stand up for innocence and victim's rights is one of the many reasons I love you. Thank you for sharing this, it's something we all need to read and take to heart. I'm so very blessed to know you and call you friend.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I haven't examined the story as much as you have, but I have witnessed a lot of arguments on Facebook. (isn't Facebook sometimes the worst place to find intelligence?)
    In my heart of hearts, I do think Dylan is innocent and I do think Mia is a nutcase. That's besides the point, though. I always thought she was a nutcase!
    I can't..understand letting children near proven sex offenders. I can't.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Uh-oh...I think I messed up and my comment disappeared. I think there are a lot of reasons why mothers make the decisions they do when they suspect or know that their child is being sexually abused and unfortunately it is the child that is harmed when the mother makes a bad decision. Just because the abuse is swept under the rug or the mother stays with the offender does not mean the child is lying. I can't speak to Woody Allen's guilt or innocence, but his relationship with Soon-Yi bothers me as well. And I will never understand why anyone would let their child spend time with a known sex offender. Why would anyone take a chance with their child's well being?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Excellent post Tracie. I believe 100% everything Dylan has said. And zero things from Woody Allen. I wish other people felt the same way.-Ashley

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't like Woody Allen, I have never liked him, I always thought he was kind of creepy so I have no problem believe Dylan

    ReplyDelete
  12. Excellent post. Thanks for putting into words what many of us think, but can't say as eloquently as you have. I don't understand the people who defend Woody Allen and don't "get" it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My iPad is flaking out on me so this will be a quick comment to say I have been meaning to come by and tell you I love the strength you have and the determination in your words to show what people need to remember. It is not the victim's fault, EVER, and it is not her responsibility to prove what happened. And all of this is just so very wrong. It makes me angry beyond the right words. So I thank you for sharing yours. Xo

    ReplyDelete