Is the Harvey Weinstein case the catalyst needed for abuse survivors?

Angelina Jolie. Anna Paquin. Allegedly sexually abused at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. The Hollywood producer best known for a range of films such as Kill Bill Vol. 3 and Teaching Mrs Tingle has been accused of abusing actors working with him on films.

Mr Weinstein is finished. Even if he is found to be totally innocent and that all of these ladies who have come forward and said he molested them are shown to be wrong, it will destroy him and his career. His company has fired him, which tells me they are taking the allegations seriously. Mr Weinstein is being investigated for 5 separate allegations of sexual misconduct and has now got a total of 40 accusers arrayed against him.

But here is the thing. Granted nothing has yet been proven the number of ladies from Hollywood and elsewhere coming forward and saying that Harvey Weinstein harassed them whilst working with him, are too many and too credible to be dismissed. None of these ladies as far as I can gather is out for money or revenge. They are simply coming forward because a social change is happening – the New York Times expose has done the job it was intended to do. It has shone a light into one of Hollywoods darkest spots and women are coming forward. A threshhold where women are simply standing up and saying “no more – he hurt me, like he hurt others and I am not standing for it”.

We need to give these ladies a fair chance to prove their allegations. We need a fair chance for any others who have been abused to come forward and say so, to tell the police – if they are prepared to go that far – and let the world know the real scale of Mr Weinstein’s offending.

But there are two huge flaws here. Mr Weinstein has completely denied all of the allegations. He has checked himself into his own luxury rehabilitation unit, which is not a good sign as it most probably has none of the parameters of a successful unit. And he is likely to be using his own money to fund it, meaning he has a degree of control over what he does and does not do in terms of recommended treatment. He could even simply pay off the employees.

Will Harvey Weinstein’s troubles be the catalyst for women across all professions to come forward and say they were abused? As horrible as the suggestion is, lets hope so. Lets get a true measure of the magnitude of the problem. Let us stop denying this goes on. We know it does

But let us go one step further. Men have been abused as well. Their numbers are unknown at this this point and this may have to do with the extreme stigma attached with coming forward and the lack of social assistance dealing with the mental consequences – it might have happened decades ago, but the memories might as clear as if the offending had just happened.

Let us stop beating about the bush. We have a sexual abuse crisis in New Zealand as well and we need to acknowledge it. We need to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. If there are perpetrators of the dastardly types of crimes that Mr Weinstein has been accused of in New Zealand industries, they need to be ferreted out and brought to justice. The abuse survivors who had the horror of working with these people deserve nothing less.

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