A year after their allegations against the Hollywood mogul helped fuel a global movement, five women reflect on their ordeals and what lies ahead
In the hours after Harvey Weinstein was finally outed as a serial sexual harasser and abuser last October, Zo Brock received link after link to the bombshell New York Times coverage from the friends she had told of her own Weinstein experience.
When he denied the accusations against him, the former model and writer from New Zealand decided she had to speak up.
It was a no-brainer, Brock told the Guardian of her decision to publish her own account on Medium. I wrote so hard I was sweating. I just blurted it out.
Brock accused the Hollywood producer of making an unwanted sexual advance when she was 23 years old in a hotel room, forcing her to run into a bathroom to escape.
For the first month after the allegations came to light, there was an enormous feeling of validation, Brock said. The New Yorker published its own reportage, in which more Weinstein accusers came forward. His production company announced it was sacking him, his wife announced she was leaving him, and the organization behind the Oscars voted to expel him.
Women and men stepped forward to accuse other powerful celebrities, from actor Kevin Spacey to director James Toback. And Donald Trumps accusers wondered if the president might finally be held to account for the claims they had made against him.
As the fervor of the #MeToo movement spread, open secrets became public knowledge.
All that gave us the feeling like we were cresting a beautiful wave, Brock recalled.
But, she added, inevitably the wave has to crash.
There were op-eds in prominent publications declaring the movement had gone too far. On social media, accusers faced harassment and threats. French actress Catherine Deneuve added her name to a letter calling the claims a witch-hunt. The author Germaine Greer called Weinsteins victims career rapees.
It was stunning and a slap in the face, said Brock of the pushback. I expected men to fail to hear us and understand that. I didnt expect it from my sisters.
Meanwhile, the effects of making their ordeals public were taking their toll on Weinsteins accusers. Brock said her hair started falling out from stress. Another told the Guardian she had decided to move because she felt safer in a new apartment building with good security. Accusers sought out therapy or counselling or lawyers. Some sought out all three.
Then came the stories about men accused of sexual misconduct were beginning to plot their comebacks, even as some including Weinstein faced the prospect of criminal charges. Weinstein has denied charges of rape and other non-consensual acts.
For many of us, we didnt even get our first chance, Brock said angrily. We came across our Harvey Weinsteins at the beginning of our careers and had our dreams taken away from us. And the minute theyre held accountable, they start talking about making a comeback.
A year after the #MeToo movement took off in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, its shockwaves have been felt way beyond Hollywood, from Capitol Hill to the courts, through the tech and media and service industries, as well as academia and even childrens literature. More than 200 celebrities, politicians and CEOs have been accused, according to an ongoing count from Vox. And the movements hashtag #MeToo has blossomed into a global phenomenon.
And yet, for some of Weinsteins accusers, the moment is one of both hope and despair.
The recent confirmation of Trumps supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who denies multiple accusations of sexual assault, and whose confirmation hearings included testimony from one of his three named accusers, were hard to watch.
Still, Brock made herself tune in. Whats happening right now is our government is showing young boys and men that if they grope women and rape women and they want to lie about it, they can still become president or a supreme court justice, she said. And theyre telling young girls if it happens to them, it doesnt matter.
Brock has taken measures to protect her sanity, temporarily shutting down her Twitter account, tuning out the news when she needs to, and seeking therapy. But she is still glad she came forward.
Every single time one of us speaks up, another one of us whos been assaulted gets the courage to speak up too, Brock said.
Im OK but not OK, she continued. Im more OK than Ive ever been, because Im an adult and I speak my truth. But on another level, theres no escape from any of it.
I had to do something
Former actor and screenwriter Louisette Geiss had been visiting her OBGYN after recently giving birth to her fourth child when the Weinstein news broke on 5 October, 2017. Walking out of hospital and turning on her phone, she was greeted by a flood of texts and calls.
When I looked down I had an incredible amount of texts from people Id told over the years of what had happened to me, from friends I hadnt spoken to in a long time, to clients I had told the month previous, to one old boyfriend saying, Oh my God, you should read this, Geiss told the Guardian.
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