As allegations of sexual assault, harassment, and rape against Harvey Weinstein mount, the theater of victim-blaming is on full display.
In a powerful YouTube video, award-winning actress and rape survivor Evan Rachel Wood addresses the Weinstein allegations and explains why she hasn't named her assailants — and why that's nothing to be ashamed of.
"My perpetrators were very powerful, very rich, very entitled, very narcissistic white men. I haven't named my abusers for a number of reasons. One: I'm one person against some very powerful people. Two: Money and time, and re-traumatising yourself to go after the person that assaulted you takes quite a toll," Wood explains.
She describes it as a "terrifying thing" to go through because she's afraid of not being believed, of her career being ruined, and her finances being drained because it's incredibly costly to go to court against a powerful, wealthy individual.
Wood also addresses why it often takes survivors so long to speak out: "Sometimes the act is so traumatising, or you're so ashamed of it, or you're so confused by it, or you're so scared of your perpetrators, that you're silenced. Sometimes for years, sometimes for your whole life," she says. "It took me seven years after I was raped to admit to myself that I even was raped and that I should be upset."
"I'm still working through what happened. I'm still on that step, which is another reason why I don't feel strong enough or ready enough to name my abusers," she continues.
Wood also addresses the incredibly important issue of victims being blamed for not coming forward. We're sent the message that, if the perpetrator strikes again, it's in some way our fault.
"The fact that women are afraid to name their abusers is not their fault. It should tell us all that...women have little faith in the system because it's failed them so many times."
Wood is absolutely correct that the system repeatedly fails victims of sexual violence, regardless of who the perpetrator is. According to statistics gathered by RAINN, 310 out of every 1,000 rapes are reported to police and only 11 out of 1,000 cases are referred to prosecutors. The most depressing statistic of all is that only six out every 1,000 rapists will spend a day in prison.
She may not be in a place to name her abusers, but Wood is committed to raising awareness about sexual violence. She encourages women to warn others about predators, and urges men to ask the women in their lives to share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. "Ask the ladies in your life if they have any stories because I think you'll be shocked to know that every single woman has one," Wood says.
"I'm not ashamed to say I'm not ready to come forth with the names because I'm here to identify a problem," she continues, noting that we need to actively identify the issues of power, patriarchy, inequality, and the objectification of women everywhere.
"I'm here to tell you that I'm afraid and I don't think that's my fault," Wood concludes. "I'm here to tell you that I'm afraid so we can identify the problem."
By admitting that she's afraid and is still in the early stages of her recovery, Wood is actually exemplifying courage and bravery. Healing from sexual violence is a long, painful process and society needs to stop perpetuating the message that victims who don't report are responsible for future crimes committed by their perpetrators. Let's place the blame exactly where it belongs: at the feet of men who sexually abuse, harass, and rape women.
Watch Wood's entire video here:
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