The list of Hollywood sexual predators continues to grow each day. Like the revelation of the priest abuse in the Catholic Church at the start of this century, victims can now speak out as others take the brave step in going public.
There is the psychological aspect to all of this. In cases of sexual abuse, especially at a younger age, victims may not even recall the event until an older age when they feel safe, or when they read about someone else and it triggers a memory.
The abuse in Hollywood, like that in the Church, as it is in other leadership positions, speaks to a deeper issue of power. Many of the Hollywood cases involve minors, but many do not. The predator takes advantage of others as he or she (although most often he) feels like they have the power, or the right, to do so.
I watched a Ted talk yesterday by social psychologist, Paul Piff, titled, Does money make you mean? You can watch it here. The video captures how the more power one has (even it is by chance), one can become more arrogant and powerful, as they also lose empathy and compassion.
While the dominoes continue to fall, I am struck by the bravery of those impacted by this abuse. I wonder, would I be so brave?
To my knowledge, I was never sexually or physically abused. I wonder if I was, would I share my story?
Would the honesty by others motivate me?
Would the need to heal give me the strength?
Would the desire for justice be enough?
Would the hope to prevent this person from hurting another person challenge me to speak?
While I hope so, I honestly do not know.
There is such vulnerability in this, opening yourself to unjustified blame and judgement. Yet, so many brave individuals have come out to share their story. They have their names, faces, and stories on websites, newspapers, and news programs.
While mostly females have shared their experiences, some men have come out as well. In a society where females face a greater scrutiny, I am even more encouraged and inspired by their bravery.
As each person shares their story, there is a ripple effect. Not only in taking down the abuser, but also lifting up another who faces this unfair plight.
This speaks to the power of numbers, and the need for community. We can go at this life on our own, but when we find solidarity, we can lead to change.
The challenge for the audience in these scandals is to not treat this as a distant issue in Hollywood. This abuse happens in families, institutions of education and other workforces, and where communities gather. It is everywhere.
From mental illness to a dysfunctional express of power, the only way to combat this is by community.
We must be a community that protects one another. A community willing to combat those abusing power, those influencers who believe they are untouchable and invincible.
There was a time when people knew of the abusive priests and turned their heads. There was a time when movie producers and actors abused children and others, and bystanders closed their ears and eyes. There are too many cases of abuse where communities “stay out of it,” and say, “it is none of my business.”
Social movements can be born from these injustices. The Civil Rights movement was born from a community saying enough is enough. The Occupy Wall Street movement was born from a community saying enough is enough. The Black Lives Matter movement was born from a community saying enough is enough. Now for Hollywood, it is time to say enough is enough.
The question for those of us not in Hollywood, as it was for those not directly impacted by the other social movements of out time, how do we respond?
Can we show a percentage of the bravery of these men and women who have told their story, exposing themselves to even greater vulnerability and judgement?
Can we not only comfort them by our thoughts and prayers, but by standing with them and with others?
Can we commit to taking a stand, using whatever power we have to advocate for those who do not have, and to create a true community of respect and love?
This is not a movie, or a series to binge watch. This is real, and we all have a role to play.