It’s rare to find someone who has never heard of Miramax, an entertainment company that produces and distributes movies and TV shows. In fact, the company has produced hits like “Pulp Fiction”, “Kill Bill”, “Bridget Jones Diary”, and “No Country For Old Men”. But until very recently, the general public had no idea that one of the co-founders, Harvey Weinstein, was the real-life villain for many women – that is until dozens of women accused him of sexual assault.
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In early October of 2017, the New York Times published a piece about Weinstein titled “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers For Decades”, an article that would open up the floodgates and provide dozens of women the courage they needed to come forward and tell their story.
In their news story, the NYT reported that their reporters had spent countless hours going over legal documents, emails, interviews, and internal business documents and what they discovered was shocking. For more than three decades, Weinstein has been assaulting women. In fact, he has settled sexual assault lawsuits with at least eight different women.
While this new may have been shocking to the public, it shouldn’t have been. Just a few years ago, an Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez had accused Weinstein of groping her when she went to his office for a business meeting. At the time she went straight to the police who asked her to set up another meeting with Weinstein and placed a wire on her.
She did as the officers asked and wore the wire. During her second meeting with him, he admitted that he had groped her and then proceeded to beg her to come back to his room. Despite his on tape confession, the Manhattan district attorney did not press charges citing a lack of evidence. However, Weinstein, clearly knowing he had been caught, agreed to a settlement in return for the victim signing a non-disclosure agreement.
Sadly, this victim is not alone. Since the NYT article was published, at least 76 women have come forward and alleged that they were victims of sexual assault and rape, all committed by Harvey Weinstein.
As each woman has come forward and shared details, a clear pattern has emerged. In most instances, the woman was encouraged to meet with Weinstein to discuss potential movie roles and invited to a hotel.
It’s not uncommon for actresses and actors to meet with producers and directors in a hotel, but usually, a conference room is reserved for the meeting. Weinstein, however, always wanted the women to come up to his personal hotel room. There he would do things like walk around naked, pressure the women to give him a massage or ask them to watch him shower, or he would physically grab them and kiss, fondle, or force himself on them.
Regardless of how far his physical attack went, each time Weinstein would repeatedly tell the woman involved that she shouldn’t say anything to anyone. Sometimes his tone would be threatening and sometimes he would apologize and act remorseful. However, as can be heard on the recording when the police performed the wiretap, even during apologizing he would pressure the women into meeting with him again.
There are many reasons why victims choose to remain silent, however, the most common are:
Sadly, these fears are not unfounded. In the United States, rape culture has persisted and victims typically deal with issues like victim-blaming and disbelief.
One of the saddest things about this latest set of allegations is that now, after almost 80 victims have come forward, many men in Hollywood have admitted that they knew about Weinstein’s “reputation” or admitted that one of the women had told them what happened. Yet it wasn’t until a newspaper made the story public and shamed this man that the dozens of women affected felt comfortable enough to come forward.
At Abuse Guardian, we hope that we can help change rape culture and give New York sexual assault victims the support they need to get through this difficult time.