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Woody Allen's Light Forces Dylan out of Sexual Abuse Shadows

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Woody Allen has not only been spared punishment for his crimes against his daughter, Dylan Farrow, he has been celebrated for milestones achieved during the time of the alleged abuse. Some may argue that Allen's mired personal life, filled with allegations of sexual abuse and a penchant for very young women, is distinct from his hugely successful professional life for which he was recently awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at this year's Golden Globes ceremony. But such a rational would be akin to believing that award-winning singer and frequently indicted, R. Kelly or Jimmy Page, who kidnapped and raped a 14 year old, should be awarded Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award; or Lawrence Taylor, a registered sex offender, who paid for sex with a 16 year old, should be awarded ESPN's Lifetime Achievement Award. Woody Allen is obviously held to a different standard.

Barbara Walters, Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett are but a few celebrities who have refused to question Allen's integrity, nor sympathize with Dylan's plight. Ms. Walters is quite arguably, one of the greatest journalist of our time. Yet, her declaration, "I have really seen a father as sensitive and as loving and as caring as Woody ..." would somehow negate the very real possibility that Allen was a pedophile, was careless and callous. Very often, abusers are manipulators and such, manipulate their victims and the people with whom they come in contact. Very seldom do you find a pedophile walking on the street with his privates in hand and saliva dripping from corners of his mouth. Most often, they look like the educated businessman, the hardworking blue collar employee, or the bespectacled eccentric director.

As I sat and watched Blue Jasmine and marveled at Cate Blanchett's Oscar-worthy performance, I felt guilty for supporting the work of a sexual abuser. As one who was sexually molested as a child, I should have let my voice be heard even if no one was listening by refusing to watch a Woody Allen film. A mistake that I will not repeat.

Sexual abuse and domestic abuse continue to rise at epidemic rates because many in our society think like Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett - "abuse is a family matter". They are wrong, it's a criminal matter. As long as we allow pedophiles to hide behind the "family" closed door, they will be safe from persecution, prosecution and humiliation. Need it be proven that Woody Allen is a serial abuser before people care; stop celebrating him; and hold him accountable for his abusive actions?

The physical pain from Allen's abuse faded soon after the assault, but the emotional and psychological pain he inflicted on his daughter, Dylan, lasted for decades. She suffered years of anguish, self mutilation, depression and suicide attempts. The pain does not disappear at the behest of an apology (which Allen has not offered). With therapy, support and prayer, one understands that sexual abuse should not define who you are as a person, but it unquestionably shapes the person that you become.

As for me, I have no intention to forgive my abuser. Many of my personality traits, that I still struggle to change, are the direct result of years of abuse. As a victim of sexual abuse I can speak to other victims or read their experiences and pick up on the nuances in language or accounts of key details that indicate to me, "that person is telling the truth". I fully believe Dylan's testament of sexual abuse by Woody Allen.

So the debatable question is: Should Allen be denied accolades and awards for his work as a director and writer because he molested his seven year old daughter and had an admitted relationship with a 17 year old high school girl when he was 41? The answer is "yes". (The legal age of consent in New York is 17, as Allen understands for his first wife was 16 years old when they married and he was 19 - also legal because is was less than four years her senior.)

No matter how gifted one is, we, as a society have mores that dictate pedophiles must be condemned not celebrated. Whether the judicial system holds Allen accountable, as a society of civilized individuals, our mores demand we protect the innocent and abhor the deviant.

Abuse is about power and control and finally after 21 years, Dylan took Woody's power away. Her ability to finally fight back for the seven year old girl who couldn't is chilling and power-filled.

As poet Rudyard Kipling wrote:

if you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken, Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools ...

Dylan, "Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And---which is more---you'll be a [Wo]Man, my [daughter]."

Follow Tanya Young Williams on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ImTanyaWilliams

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