Saturday, February 8, 2014

Addressing the elephant in the room: Woody Allen and a pattern of abuse

As the firestorm continues to swirl after Woody Allen's DAUGHTER, Dylan Farrow published molestation charges against him - I refuse to go along with Allen's published assertions that an adoption somehow merits distinction -  I have to address the huge elephant in the room.

Why does everyone act as if Dylan is the only person who has been harmed? What about Soon-Yi? What about Allen's two new adopted GIRLS? Who speaks for them?

No one questions why Soon-Yi,  a child of only 7 or 8 when Allen came into her life, continues to stand by Allen. According to reports, Allen dated Mia Farrow for 12 years, during which Soon Yi, the child he first met, became the adult he later married.

Allen himself has gone on record to claim that he never considered Soon Yi to be his daughter because she's the adopted child of his then girlfriend. They never lived together, he reasons, and acts incredulous that anyone think it immoral for him to take nude pictures of, let alone marry the daughter of a woman he's dating.

To Allen it seems being adopted is an import an distinction. In interviews, he repeats "she isn't my child; I didn't consider myself her father” – as if the lack of a biological connection clears him of despicable behavior.

Coming to his support, supporters claim at the time the photos were found and a relationship admitted, Soon Yi was over 21 - a consenting adult – so it doesn't matter.

But doesn't it? It is not appropriate to have an intimate relationship with your girlfriend's daughter -- no matter where you live or how old she is.

To someone well familiar with child abuse, the term Stockholm syndrome has to be a familiar one. For example, Jaycee Duggard was of age, with two children when she was finally rescued. As an adult, she didn't run or contact the authorities when she had the chance. Instead she followed her abuser, did what she was told, supported him when asked.

Dugard was found after years of abuse. But when first approached by police she told investigators that Phillip Garrido - her captor and rapist - was "a great person" who was "good with her kids." It was after Garrido confessed, that she changed her story. Is that consent? Or was she just hopelessly resigned to her fate, seeing no way out?

Shawn Hornbeck was not a willing captor, but years after he was kidnapped he was often seen playing alone outside or walking alone in local malls giving no indication of being kidnapped and held against his will or wanting to escape. He even spoke with a policeman on occasion without alerting them of his predicament.

One New York trauma psychologist describes Stockholm syndrome this way: “Whenever an abuser shows acts of kindness toward you, it shows you some hope that you will survive.”

No one is accusing Allen of kidnapping. He doesn't have to. He lets adoption do his dirty work for him.

Seeing how Allen's powerful friends vehemently support him, brushing off graphic, reprehensible accusations as “imagined” and in effect, attacking and smearing the credibility of the women who dare speak out against him, is there any wonder why Soon – Yi, who was abused child even before she met Allen, remains stoically in his corner?

Allen's other adopted daughter, Dylan, claims he molested her. Yet we pretend her case is isolated, that one is not connected to the other. Why? Because Allen says so? Here we have two girls - both adopted - and both allegedly in an inappropriate relationship with an adult who dated their mother; a man who has already demonstrated he's oblivious to any moral obligation not to engage in a sexual relationship with children who aren't biologically his. How can we pretend there is no pattern? To make things worse, Allen was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan long before the relationship with Soon Yi was revealed.

I'm sick of people regurgitating Allen's talking points. If you're dating a woman with children, you have a moral obligation not to get sexually involved with those children. It doesn't matter if you are married, living together, living in separate states or seeing each other three times a year. It doesn't matter if the children are 5, 15 or 25. And it certainly doesn't doesn't matter that they are adopted.

Allen has two more adopted daughters. Who speaks for them? Soon-Yi, a woman who was abused even before Allen came into her life? Certainly not Allen. When will the press stop giving him a free pass? I'm still waiting for some reporter to ask Allen the same types of pointed, hard questions, and employ the same journalistic skepticism given Michael Jackson.  I've never seen an article on Jackson's alleged indiscretions introduced the way Nicholas Kristof couched Dylan Farrow's open letter on his blog -- cautioning that,  the face of a victim's direct accusation, the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  We're constantly urged to give Allen benefit of the doubt.

Every time I see a picture of those children with Allen, l see vacant, hopeless stares. In photos, they seem quietly resigned, even uncomfortable around Allen. As they and the rest of the world witness what is now happening to Dylan for speaking out about her abuse; how she's doubted, questioned, challenged; her mother vilified, attacked and labeled; those children must feel trapped with no hope for rescue. Like Duggard, the world looks past the obvious tent in the backyard.

Outsiders see their hopeless situation exactly the way their powerful abusers want it to be seen. And no one cares enough to ask hard questions or look beyond the front door.