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The Weinstein Saga – What good can come from this Hollywood horror?

It’s hard to ignore the Harvey Weinstein headlines circulating in the media; they are as offensive and abrupt as many might assume the man to be.

I, like many, have been following the developments in this Hollywood horror story over the course of the past few weeks.

I have felt a gamut of emotions – swinging from absolute disgust at what the man has been accused of, to sadness for his victims, but amidst the sheer horror of it, is a silver lining, a glimmer of positivity and pride at the chance that the tide is changing in Hollywood. I have seen the support for the brave survivors who have stood up and spoken out about their ordeals and I have witnessed the vindication that many of these celebrities must be feeling, having freed a secret that they should never have been forced to keep.

Yesterday new allegations surfaced from the United Kingdom. I’m sure it won’t be the last we’ve heard. It’s a double-edged sword, as behind every sensationalist headline there is often, a broken soul. Hopefully, the publicity and the public support will help these women heal.

Working with survivors of sexual harassment and sexual abuse for many years now, I have seen many times the ugliness of people who exploit their position of power and the devastation that this abuse has on the vulnerable victim.

I have represented people in the entertainment industry who have suffered humiliating and soul destroying treatment and who have done their best to move forward, honour their end of the contract that they signed (with often ridiculously one sided and unfair terms) and suffer in silence because of the absolute fear that they have of rocking the boat and destroying their careers.

Often the “talent” in the entertainment industry – the actors, the newsreaders, and the reality TV contestants are in a particularly vulnerable position. It is a cut-throat industry where only a small percentage of people will enjoy any real and lasting success. Success is very much dependent upon the relationships that these people have with a very small number of people.

Unfortunately, as we have seen so many times before, it is when power is concentrated in a “few positions”, that we see horrendous behaviour of those who exploit their position for their own greedy and gross satisfaction. This is what Weinstein did and this is what unfortunately happens way too often in the entertainment industry and beyond where there is such a power imbalance between the victim and the perpetrator.

So where is the silver lining in this horror story of power, gluttony, abuse and despair? How can we feel uplifted by the fact that so many bright young females have been humiliated, broken and destroyed? How do we come to terms with exploitation of someone’s ambition and desperate desire to succeed?

We don’t.

We don’t put up with it. We don’t turn a blind-eye. We refuse to accept it as part of our culture. We force change!

The positive is that these people are coming forward now and that we, as a community are standing with them and supporting them. Our courage is fuelled by the bravery that these victims are showing. We are becoming stronger because of their show of strength. We are becoming united. The voices of the victims are no longer ignored, or unspoken. We are all ears. The volume is turned up. We want your stories because we want an end to your pain.

The power has shifted.

By others coming forward and seeking help, we are understanding that there is help available for anyone who has suffered in this way.

Again – survivors are becoming stronger. We need to help them build that muscle.

As an abuse law litigator, I applaud you. The whole world does.

We are sorry for your pain, but we’re awe-struck by your bravery. Few people would put their entire careers on the line, to stop a cycle of abuse. These women are doing it for the next generation of actresses.

Collectively, speaking up, is the most powerful performance that each of these women has given in Hollywood and I’m giving you all a standing ovation.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: October 17, 2017.

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