The We­in­stein scan­dal: ‘Some­thing in­spir­ing has come out of some­thing so aw­ful’

A year on from #Metoo, the We­in­stein sur­vivors have united in a mis­sion to make sure vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault never feel alone again. Anna Sil­ver­man re­ports

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‘ I WAS ONLY 23 when I was Har­vey-ed,’ says Zoe Brock, one of the 100 or so women who have come for­ward to al­lege they were sex­u­ally ha­rassed or as­saulted by Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein. It was 1998 and Zoe, then a model, was at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val. Af­ter a glitzy party, she says We­in­stein tricked her into com­ing back to his room at the su­per-luxe Hô­tel du Cap-eden-roc.

She ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion un­der the il­lu­sion that oth­ers would be join­ing them, but says she was per­suaded un­der false pre­tences and sud­denly found her­self alone in his room. ‘My body went into high alert… Har­vey left the room and reemerged naked and asked if I would give him a mas­sage,’ she says. ‘Pan­ick­ing and in shock, I re­mem­ber weigh­ing up the op­tions and won­der­ing how much I needed to pla­cate him to keep my­self safe.’

Zoe, now 44 and a writer, web de­signer and brand con­sul­tant in Aus­tralia, says We­in­stein pleaded with her to let him mas­sage her, so, ter­ri­fied, she ran into the bath­room and locked the door. ‘He promised to cover him­self and leave me alone if I came out,’ she adds. ‘ When I did, he was sit­ting on the bed in his bathrobe, cry­ing. He whim­pered, “You don’t like me be­cause I’m fat.” I shouted that he had tricked me and told him to take me back to the yacht I was stay­ing on.’

Zoe’s story bears a chill­ing re­sem­blance to the tsunami of al­le­ga­tions that emerged against the Hol­ly­wood mogul a year ago this week. On 5 Oc­to­ber 2017, The New York Times pub­lished an ar­ti­cle cat­a­logu­ing decades of ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment that quickly led to We­in­stein’s fall from grace – al­though his spokesper­son re­sponded that any

al­le­ga­tions of non-con­sen­sual sex were un­equiv­o­cally de­nied by him.

Up un­til then, pow­er­ful per­pe­tra­tors sailed through life un­en­cum­bered, ex­ploit­ing a cul­ture that re­lied on a vic­tim’s si­lence. But last year, we saw that dam start to shat­ter and break. Not only did the We­in­stein ef­fect em­bolden women to share their own ex­pe­ri­ences – sto­ries of #Metoo filled every so­cial me­dia feed – it gal­vanised his al­leged vic­tims to unite and stand with other sur­vivors of abuse.

Zoe met Louise God­bold and Kather­ine Ken­dall – who both claim to have suf­fered sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences in­volv­ing We­in­stein in the ’90s – when they took part in a Power Women break­fast in Hol­ly­wood last Oc­to­ber. Over the past 12 months they have con­nected over their shared ex­pe­ri­ence of trauma, their drive and their de­sire to sup­port each other and help other women.

‘ We be­gan work­ing on an or­gan­i­sa­tion to pro­vide a home for sur­vivors,’ Zoe ex­plains. ‘ We are a group of peo­ple who share a shitty ex­pe­ri­ence and the courage to have spo­ken up about it be­cause we wanted to change the world. I’ve made some beau­ti­ful friend­ships in the group and feel like some of us are real sis­ters.’

Orig­i­nally, the women talked about start­ing a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, but now they are fo­cus­ing on cham­pi­oning work that al­ready ex­ists. Their bond means bound­less sup­port for each other, too. Louise, 56, now a trauma spe­cial­ist who lives in LA, has con­ducted train­ing with many We­in­stein sur­vivors, where she teaches them about deal­ing with trauma and re­silience.

‘Over the years I’ve told so many peo­ple the story it be­came a gross but hu­mor­ous ac­count about a fa­mous ass­hole in Hol­ly­wood,’ Zoe adds. ‘But the #Metoo 

move­ment made me un­pack my own ex­pe­ri­ence again and re­frame Har­vey from a mostly harm­less pig into a dan­ger­ous rapist. It messed me up and I had to talk my­self through the guilt of not go­ing to the cops and not some­how stop­ping him from hurt­ing all these other women. My con­ver­sa­tions with Lou [Louise God­bold] re­ally helped me get a glimpse into my own trauma and how it had im­pacted me.’

Louise’s en­coun­ters with We­in­stein took place when she vis­ited Mi­ra­max – We­in­stein’s pro­duc­tion com­pany – to talk about an in­tern po­si­tion in 1991, when she was 28. She had al­ready known We­in­stein for sev­eral years through her friend, the ac­tor Ly­sette An­thony – who al­leges We­in­stein raped her. Louise, now 56 and still liv­ing in LA, says she re­alises now the de­tails of what she says We­in­stein did to her are not unique. ‘ There was the of­fice tour that be­came an oc­ca­sion to trap me in an empty meet­ing room. The beg­ging for a mas­sage, his hands on my shoul­ders as I at­tempted to beat a re­treat,’ she says.

‘ When I moved to LA to con­tinue work­ing in film pro­duc­tion, Ly­sette tried to push me back to the UK, out of Har­vey’s reach, be­cause she knew he was a preda­tor. It nat­u­rally caused a rift. We only re­con­nected af­ter the [#Metoo] rev­e­la­tions last year,’ she adds.

When Kather­ine, 49, an ac­tor in LA who starred in Swingers, met other sur­vivors at the break­fast in Hol­ly­wood last year, it was the first time she had been in a room with other al­leged We­in­stein vic­tims and they each wore nametags that said ‘sur­vivor’. ‘It was a very pow­er­ful mo­ment,’ she says.

She heard about Louise’s work with trauma and was in­ter­ested im­me­di­ately. ‘I knew it was a piv­otal mo­ment in my jour­ney and my mis­sion was to find ways to heal. I took sev­eral work­shops with Louise. One of the most im­por­tant things I’ve been taught is to have com­pas­sion for my­self. Learn­ing about the way our brain works when we’ve been through trauma has been eye-open­ing. There were sud­denly ex­pla­na­tions for things in my life I’d never un­der­stood – like that trauma sur­vivors don’t know how to take con­trol of sit­u­a­tions be­cause con­trol was taken from us.’

When Kather­ine was 23, her agent set up a meet­ing be­tween her and We­in­stein. He then in­vited her to a screen­ing that turned out to be a solo trip to the cin­ema with him. Af­ter­wards, he asked if they could go to his apart­ment to pick some­thing up. She says he went to the bath­room, came back in an open bathrobe and asked her to mas­sage him.

‘I could feel my body trem­bling. I thought I might faint,’ she re­calls. ‘He told me ev­ery­one does it and men­tioned spe­cific fa­mous peo­ple. I said no and he went back into the bath­room. I thought he was get­ting dressed, but then he came out com­pletely naked. I was ab­so­lutely stunned and truly didn’t know what was go­ing to hap­pen next. We did this dance back and forth where I was try­ing to get past him to the door, then he asked me to show him my tits. I was fu­ri­ous and kept say­ing, “How could you do this to me?”’

Like many of his sur­vivors, Kather­ine says she felt alone and ex­pe­ri­enced a deep sense of shame in the years that fol­lowed. She had no idea he had al­legedly abused other women and only told a few trusted peo­ple what had hap­pened, ter­ri­fied she’d be pun­ished if it got back to him. She tried to block it from her mem­ory but bumped into him at a num­ber of film pre­mieres 

WE HAD THE COURAGE TO SPEAK UP – WE WANTED TO CHANGE THE WORLD

– which would al­ways trig­ger panic at­tacks.

‘I felt a great sense of relief and heal­ing watch­ing the #Metoo move­ment un­fold last year,’ she adds. ‘It meant I wasn’t alone. But I felt aw­ful that all these other women had gone through it as well. A lot of us are friends for life now. Some of us are in dif­fer­ent places on our jour­ney but we are there to sup­port each other through­out. We have var­i­ous What­sapp groups and fre­quently bounce ideas off each other. The move­ment has been in­cred­i­ble be­cause it has en­cour­aged peo­ple to feel things they may have buried and gives peo­ple a chance to heal.’

It has taken se­ri­ous guts, but the sur­vivors’ sup­port net­work has picked up a mo­men­tum of its own. Now, un­like be­fore, sur­vivors stand to­gether, sup­port one an­other and blame the per­pe­tra­tors in­stead of them­selves. Thou­sands of women like Louise, Kather­ine and Zoe are tak­ing con­trol of the nar­ra­tive and as­sert­ing that they aren’t go­ing to take it any more.

Zoe calls for an end to a cul­ture of ‘ bro’ en­ablers that al­lows the pow­er­ful to ma­nip­u­late sit­u­a­tions to their ad­van­tage. ‘ The world needs to un­der­stand how trauma im­pacts peo­ple. We must hold abusers to ac­count; we can no longer al­low men like Trump and Ka­vanaugh [Trump’s US supreme court nom­i­nee ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault, which he de­nies] to hold of­fice,’ she says.

‘ This net­work of women who have come to­gether has felt ex­tremely pos­i­tive. There is a con­nec­tiv­ity and a sense of sol­i­dar­ity. This is the be­gin­ning of the fight. It is cru­cial the mil­lions of abused vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault have a safe place and feel sup­ported enough to come for­ward when they do.’ For more info about trauma and re­silience, visit Echo at echotrain­ing.org

We­in­stein be­ing es­corted into the Supreme Court last month on fur­ther abuse charges

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