I wish there was a data base list of sexual harassers people had access to

 

I’ve been preoccupied with the idea of justice.

George denies he threw me on a table in front of a group of people and dry humped me. I know he’s lying. I have witnesses.

The DGA says it has a no tolerance policy for sexual harassment, yet there isn’t any info on how to file a complaint against a member. Most film and television production is done through a subsidiary company or LLC so a parent company can legally cover its ass. Employees of film and television production are work-for-hire. There really is no place safe to go if something terrible happens.

This is what needs to happen.

The Producers Guild of America needs to create a database. It will keep sexual harassment information about cast and crew members. It will include everything from unwelcome jokes, hostile abusive work environment, unwanted sexual advances, verbal sexual harassment, physical sexual harassment and so on.

It will name the person responsible for the harassment. It will allow the person who filed the complaint to remain publicly anonymous.

It will show if the perpetrator apologized.

It will give the victim a chance to speak in a safe place.

It will provide an opportunity for the harasser to learn from their behavior, correct it, and stop it. I imagine the offender going to classes to learn what is appropriate and not.

Instead of a silent network of sexual harassers and pedophiles having power, the victims of their unwanted behavior will.

People can use the database to look names up, and make choices based on their behavior, and if that person is wanted on set.

Personally, I believe there are plenty of talented and good people out there. Sure they may get testy on set, joke around, and flirt to get through the day, but they also know the line between appropriate and not. Between welcome and unwelcome. Hire those talented people. Not the other ones.

Who’s with me?

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It’s Never Just Once

Perhaps you think waiting 20 years is too long to wait to speak up. I don’t and here’s why.

20 years is time to heal, grow past trauma, and regain personal power. It’s time to forget and bury. It’s the time necessary because back then, no one spoke up and the unwritten violent rule of silence to survive was in place.

Yes, I said violent.

It’s violence sexual harassed people face. First the harassment violates the person, then the silent overwhelming pressure of shame gags us, and finally the last act of violence then was people were meant to keep their mouths shut.

And 20 years later you know what victims face? Doubt. The burden of proof. Remebering and reliving a past they kept buried. Being triggered by all these terrible stories.

These are reasons I kept quiet after I was thrown on a table and dry humped in front of a group of people.

  1.  They all laughed.
  2. Most of those who witnessed this horrendous act of sexual harassment were my bosses on a movie set. The aggressor was the first AD.
  3. They didn’t care. Producers, assistant director, line producers, drivers, knew it was wrong and still no one pulled him off.
  4. He didn’t get in trouble.
  5. I probably tried to uncomfortably laugh it off because in a room full of men no one had my back.
  6. You may be screaming at the screen, you should’ve quit and gone home.
  7. I was shooting on location and rented my own home out so I had no place to go. Literally, my personal things were in storage and I had no apartment to run back to.
  8. Who should I call? If the producers saw and the first AD did it, where was I supposed to go?

See, not so easy. rape_by_slytherin_prince

Why did I share my story one-and-a-half-years ago? Because I have a daughter and I want to empower her. Make sure she knows what’s right and wrong. That proving she’s strong enough is never the right reason to stay. Becasue that shit would never fly with me again. I’d fight back, if not in the moment, then after. I wouldn’t remain silent. I can say this because I’ve had 20 years to grow strong.

The media is full of stories. Reading them made me cry for 2 weeks remembering details of my abuse. A reporter(s) reached out. My abuser denied it.

And there you have it folks. A she said, he said, situation. And he is a well-known Hollywood producer and assistant director. I’m not.

The Director’s Guild of America recently published their no tolerance policy on their website. But they don’t have a form or a way I can find to file a complaint against a member. So really, how is that policy working?

20 years may be a long time to wait, but I don’t think so. The anchor of pain wraps its chain around a victim and holds them in place, may even drown them, if they speak.

And here’s my other thought. It’s never just one. If a person is so bold as to do what they did to me, do you think it was their first time? Or last? Do sexual predators ever have one victim?

I don’t think so.

Are you suffering from sexual harassment fatigue? Good.

Are you suffering from sexual harassment fatigue?

Good.

It’s not even the beginning of the truth. I bet there are millions of harassers fearing exposure and they’ll get lucky and their name will be left off the public shaming list. So many will get away with it again and again and again.

Victims are silent for many reasons.I don’t blame them. I understand their silence.

I was triggered, thrown back in time and space to the anxiety filled body and victim I was then. I remembered lost details and feeling, remembered more times of powerlessness and panic. It overwhelmed me. Made me forget the woman I am today.

I hope the wave of allegations and truth become a tsunami.

I hope our shared pain, shame, and honesty does something positive in this world.

I hope each person who was wronged receives an apology. Most of all I hope you’re okay.

I believe you

The number of women sharing their #metoo stories is both #inspiring and #triggering. I don’t use the word trigger lightly, I mean it.

As a survivor of sexual assault I can honestly say all the honesty is affecting me. Reminding me of all the times I was touched and harassed, there are more incidents I spoke about that I don’t want to right here right now, but I want to say to you, I believe you.

I believe you.
I believe you.

Someone I hardly know said those words to me yesterday and the impact was profound.

If you want to talk or not talk about the things that happened to you, it’s okay. I believe you.

If you want to sit quietly beside me to be near someone who understands, I’m here.

I believe you.

I was raped when I was 15 and kept it a secret for 13 years.

I recently spoke about incidents on set, and I told them from a safe distance of 20 years and states between me and the girl I was then. But strangers are reaching out and questioning me, wanting me to be more public, make a wonderful noise to help others. But the way in which they ask feels wrong. I don’t trust their motives.

I don’t want this kind of attention. I find it safer and more comfortable behind the scenes, at my keyboard, in the routine of my life far removed from those terrible incidents.

But with all these stories, I’m remembering how it feels to be a victim just barely surviving harassment. The weight of the anxiety I lived with then, the state of mind that was my normal—high anxiety, feeling worthless and belittled. These feelings of shame have cracked open and I don’t want to remember the details they hold.

Like the time I left yoga class and got into the elevator on the way to my car and the man in there was listening to music and he came close to me and was offering for me to listen. I backed away and then he came closer and he touched my ass. He was going to do more.

This perpetrator didn’t know I gained my power back. I was no longer the victim of my life: the adult child of an alcoholic, the woman who got out of an emotionally abusive marriage, the girl who still wanted to prove to the film and television industry she could take what they dished out. I was fierce and I screamed at him. I made a loud raging noise and scared him and when the elevator door opened, we only had one floor to go, I ran to my car. I called the yoga studio and told them a pervert was hanging out in the elevator.

They didn’t do anything— they didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t their property.

I called my husband. He raged with me. Asked if I was okay, if the guy followed me. He made me feel safer. I was shaking, I can remember shaking and being annoyed that this guy ruined my chill from yoga. I wondered what made me a target over and over. Why me?

There are so many stories being shared now, so many who think they did something wrong, that’s shame talking. Shame is devilishly clever and lies. I know that, but even in knowing that it can eat away at confidence and self-worth.

I know this.

I remember the feeling of my body filling with acid slowly rotting my organs as I tried to maintain my outside. Pretend I was okay when I was not.

I believe you.

So for those who reach out and are well-meaning in telling me to do more, I believe you’re trying to be supportive, but really you feel like another bully, pushing me.

People who witnessed some of what happened to me are afraid. 20 years after the fact, they are afraid to speak up because they will lose their jobs, and perhaps they have their own shame I never thought about. Shame of not doing more when they could have.

I see you.

I believe you.

I hope #metoo will help people see one another. I hope we see our humanity and are kinder. I hope we weed out this behavior— murder it so our children won’t ever know the creepy feeling of being touched or spoken to in a way they don’t deserve.

I believe you.

The time I sat next to Alan Alda

With all the truth about Hollywood coming out, I wanted to share a funny true story.
 
Once upon a time I flew from LA to NY in first class and sat next to Alan Alda. He was intensely busy reading a script and I could tell he preferred to be left alone.
 
So I left him alone.
 
At the end of the 5 hour flight, while I retrieved my things to deboard the plane, he turned to me, looked down (he’s quite tall) and said, “Thank you.”
I nodded a small nod, but still didn’t say anything.
This was a time before cell phones and selfies and I wouldn’t have bothered him with that either.
You’re welcome.

The Fear is Real

The Harvey Weinstein story is close to my heart. In May 2016 I shared my story of sexual harassment on the set of the movie Election.

When I first shared my story men and women who worked on the set reached out to me PRIVATELY, to share their stories and say they were impressed with my ability to share what happened.

They would not come out publicly to support me. You know why? They were afraid they’d never work again.

DEADLINE.com and KTLA reached out and interviewed me about the harassment. Guess how many stories were published? NONE.

Makes a person sit back and think, what happened to the investigative report Jenna Susko? Why didn’t KTLA ever broadcast her story on sexual harassment?

Deadline.com was quick to reach out, but as none of the others who were harassed and belittled on set would go on the record I believe they didn’t have enough sources to confirm or deny my story. I reached out to a freelance writer for Variety and was told if I never pressed charges there was no story.

Being thrown on top of a table and dry humped in front of the crew is not funny. It’s what happened to me. What made George think he could do it? Because I was quiet about it, stunned into silence and no one stopped him. Instead they laughed.

Being systematically belittled and humiliated is not the price to pay for work—right? Guess what? It’s the price thousands of people pay every day, men and women, to earn a paycheck. It shouldn’t be a fact.

I was surprised at how many tens of thousands of times my story, from over a decade ago was shared. It was heartwarming to see how those I worked in the past reach out and question if they too, had ever crossed the line. I was offered jobs on sets promising me that it wouldn’t happen on their set. I was sent apologies from men who didn’t know me, saying sorry for the things I endured by the hands of other men.

You know who never reached out? George or Alexander— the two men who harassed, assaulted, and belittled me. If so many strangers could find me, why didn’t they?

Are they afraid to apologize? Is the admission of guilt shame they can’t own? Is their lack of remorse proof that they still engage in this deviant arrogant behavior? Are they afraid I want money? You know what I want? An apology. I want them to own it, say sorry and never do it again. I’d like them to do it publicly. I would accept a private apology, but think being honest about how wrong they were warrants a sincerely public apology. My story isn’t going away.

My story of abuse and harassment used to be linked to Alexander’s Wikipedia page and Google searches. But guess what? He’s got a movie coming out and any trace of his bad behavior is erased. My story is no where to be seen near his name. How much money did that cost him?

Then I find it interesting to see, how often harassers work together. Look how many times Alexander and George worked together.

Crew members knew what happened to me. No one stood up for me. They too, were enduring a shit show. They are still afraid. I’m so proud of Rose McGowan. I love her fierce voice.

But I know there’s more than one snake in the hen-house. I know the world is full of Harveys and I hope they don’t use him as a sacrificial lamb and ignore the hard work of changing a culture. Movies can be made without the bullshit of subjugating women and men.

Here’s to the people brave enough to speak. If you’re scared— know you’re not alone. You matter. It wasn’t your fault.

IT HAPPENED TO ME: An Oscar Winner Bullied Me So Badly That I Quit the Film Industry

Help for those who lost so much

I know loss.

I lost my home once to a fire.

I lost my home once to an earthquake.

I don’t know what it’s like to live in Puerto Rico where everyone around me lost everything, too.

I do know how it feels to have no place to go that is safe. To have no clothes to wear or ability to leave a place that is no longer home.

Nova Ren Suma has organized an epic auction to benefit those who have lost so much. There are books, critiques, a weekend workshop, sensitivity reads, you name it- it’s part of this auction.

Please consider bidding. It’s a win win, and how many things in life are a win-win? Bidding opens October 2nd and closes on the 5th.

 

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What Happens in Hollywood Stays in Hollywood

I’m a fan of Amber Tamblyn. Here’s why:

Amber Tamblyn: I’m Done With Not Being Believed

I like her because she spoke up!

I write back matter essays for Image Comic’s GLITTERBOMB. These essays are a few of experiences in the 18 years I lived and worked in film and TV in LA. Some of them are easier to write than others.

Being sexually harassed and bullied on a movie is one of my stories. That story of abuse is only one incident. While working in LA being sexualized and relegated to less than was par for the course with many of my male counterparts–not all of them—but many. Dealing with leering men and learning how to handle their attempts at inappropriate flirtation and unwanted attention was a skill I had to learn.

Owning my own bad behavior and writing about my poor decisions isn’t easy. I do the best to be honest about it all.

These kinds of stories are all over Hollywood. They seep into the culture. They appear to be a woman’s price of admission.

Amber’s honesty probably comes at a price for her, too. I’m glad she’s brave enough to pay it!

 

 

 

 

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