Never mind that it's Woody Allen—to kids who've been through this, the story's all too familiar.
What makes sexual abuse so devastating is the shame—the sickness that sits in your gut and never really goes away. At times, it’s paralyzing, debilitating. That’s what Dylan Farrow is talking about when she says she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
One of the most effective ways to treat PTSD is to immerse yourself in the awful memories so you can accept them as a proportionate part of your life. Once the trauma is out in the open, it’s impossible to hide from it. It becomes less threatening, more manageable.
The fact that Dylan Farrow has called Allen out so publicly while battling PTSD is more persuasive, not less. But you don’t have to be a survivor to understand what that means.
Think of the thing that most terrifies you in the world—the thing that makes your your heart race, your palms sweat—and imagine yourself staring it dead in the eye and saying you’re not scared anymore.
That’s exactly what Dylan Farrow just did, and that’s why we should listen.
Joel Hoffmann is the coeditor of
Joel Hoffmann is the coeditor ofThe Survivors Project: Telling the Truth About Life After Sexual Abuse, which collects more than 50 first-person stories by a wide range of sexual abuse survivors from across the United States. He is a two-time recipient of the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's Distinguished Writing Award.