Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, renewed claims that the filmmaker sexually assaulted her when she was a child in 1993. Though this charge that has been debated by pop culture commentators for years, this is the first time the 28-year-old Farrow has spoken out about it publicly.
Farrow aired her story in an open letter posted to Nicholas Kristoff’s blog at The New York Times. The Times’s opinion columnist implied in an introductory note that Farrow’s letter was triggered by the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award given to Woody Allen this year. The Globes award triggered highly-charged reactions across the media. MSNBC commentator Ronnan Farrow tweeted about his sister, “Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
In the letter, Dylan Farrow alleges that when she was seven-years-old, her adoptive father took her into the attic and sexually abused her. Farrow claims that Allen perpetrated many sexual acts upon her, but it wasn’t until the incident in the attic that she “couldn’t keep the secret anymore.”
“He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies,” she wrote.
She recalls how once the original accusations got out, Farrow says, she suddenly found that she was the one being accused of some sort of transgression. She says that she was shocked to find Allen accuse her mother, actress Mia Farrow, of “planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me.”
She was also shocked, she said, to become the focus of a massive legal battle with even her mother telling her she was allowed to recant her claims if they were not actually true. But, Farrow said, “I couldn’t. It was all true.”
Farrow reminded readers that Allen was never convicted of sexually abusing her, and this haunted her as she grew up.
Then she detailed how the whole episode affected her:
I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls, she lamented. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television–I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.
“Today, I consider myself lucky,” she said. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.”
She closes the letter with some pointed words directed at Hollywood elites:
What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me? Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
Finally she asked film fans to put their own daughters in her shoes before they watch his movies. First, imagine the abuse… “Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?”