#AfterMeToo: 12 Accusers Share What Happened Next, From Firing to More Trauma
Since last October, dozens of Hollywood and media’s most visible, powerful players have fallen from their positions, publicly disgraced in the wake of #MeToo accusations.
At least 556 high-profile people have been accused of sexual misconduct since the start of October 2017, when explosive reports first broke of decades of sexual misconduct by Hollywood powerhouse Harvey Weinstein, according to data compiled by the New York-based crisis consulting firm Temin & Co. That’s a 10-fold increase over the previous 12 months.
But what has happened to the women and men who unearthed their own deepest and most painful secrets? Where are the accusers now?
Almost a year after the Weinstein scandal blew up, TheWrap spoke to a dozen women and men who have come forward with their own harrowing stories of sexual abuse and harassment by some of the biggest names in media, politics and entertainment.
The act of coming forward — sometimes years after the event — has taken its toll.
For some, the last year has been marked with a barrage of attacks from internet trolls. Others have lost their jobs or opportunities for new ones. Quite a few have said they were disappointed at the direction the movement has taken over the last year. Almost all have experienced what experts call “secondary traumatization.”
In many cases, the survivors stepped into the limelight out of a sense of moral obligation, to set the record straight even when legal consequences were out of reach. But, they told TheWrap, opening the scar tissue has strained relationships, tested long-held ties and beliefs even when it provided an ultimate feeling of relief.
“On one hand there’s been a lot of support for survivors of sexual assault and an emerging community of survivors and supporters, and that’s really great,” Sarah Lowe, a clinical psychologist who studies long-term psychological consequences of traumatic events at New Jersey’s Montclair State University, told TheWrap.
“But on the other hand, many survivors are questioned, made to feel like it’s their fault and called names. That could make them question their her own reality and elicit anger, self blame and shame. And that can be the opposite of healing.”
Here are the accounts of 12 of the #MeToo accusers, in their own words, of their own #AfterMeToo.
Rose McGowan became one of the most visible leaders of the #MeToo movement after accusing indie mogul Harvey Weinstein of raping her during a hotel-room meeting at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival when she was 23. McGowan reached a settlement with Weinstein, which was disclosed in an October New York Times investigation into accusation of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct going back decades. (Weinstein, who awaits trial in New York on six criminal charges connected to accusations from three other women, has denied all accusations of non-consensual sex.)
On the past year: I am alive, despite Harvey Weinstein’s best efforts to push me to the edge. All of those working in service to a rapist have had a hand in trying to destroy me.
I have lived a life of much trauma, but this past year was such an intensely condensed trauma it took everything I had to withstand the gale-force winds. The thing about wind, though, it passes and if you lean in, you’ll find you’re still there as it fades.
It has caused me, as it has many, to reframe a lot of incidents. Put it this way, if I’d wanted to write a tell-all I could have burnt the town down, instead I left them the gift of consciousness. Waking up hurts, but so did your legs when you grew taller.
On the biggest challenges since becoming a face of the #MeToo movement: Traitorous lawyers, traitorous literary agents, Black Cube and others being hired to corrupt my life, being falsely accused, arrested, having handcuffs on me before my rapist and being verbally assaulted and watched as sport. The armchair quarterbacks who have never put themselves on the line for anything filling the atmosphere with their nasty words.
Honestly, though, the hardest thing was my book, “Brave,” which I wrote to be of service to the world, being willfully misunderstood by many in the low-level American media who for years had been paid off to malign me by a monstrous serial rapist.
I had not anticipated the American — and I stress American — press tour being as salacious and triggering as it was…. The American public, men and women alike, reverted to ingrained sexism by reducing my life’s work to a hotel room rape. What a bunch of dummies.
My goal in smashing a system has always been to see if I could make humans 10 percent more awake.
Los Angeles TV reporter Lauren Sivan was one of the first women to speak out about Weinstein. The day after The New York Times published its report that Weinstein had settled at least eight sexual harassment claims, Sivan told The Huffington Post that Weinstein cornered her at an empty restaurant a decade ago and masturbated in front of her, ejaculating into a potted plant. (Through his attorney at the time, Lisa Bloom, Weinstein declined to comment.) Sivan’s phone was soon ringing off the hook from major news outlets wanting her story, but her own station, KTTV, and news director Kris Knutsen took a very different approach — to the story and to Sivan even after seven years of regular freelance work. (KTTV did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)
For about two weeks I wasn’t on the air there and I thought it was just until this things calmed down so I didn’t read too much into it… When they finally did call me to cover news again it was clear that I was no longer covering the A-block stories. I was sent out to cover a kid who got bit by a dog. The last time they called me to fill in on a freelance shift may have been like a month or two ago. And I was definitely the last person they called. [Read more of Sivan’s story here.]
On what the station told her about scaling back her assignments: I asked about it, never got an answer. I heard through the grapevine, “Well, they don’t want to have you on the air right now because you came out with this story and it looks bad if they have you in the air because they’ve never had any of [Bill] O’Reilly’s accusers on the air.” I thought that was a strange comparison to make.
On the cold shoulder from Kris Knutsen: She’s the only female news director in this market and that’s what became really sad and disappointing to me. I got all these phone calls from news directors I never worked for just calling to say: “Are you OK?” and, “Wow, how brave that you came out with that story.” I just felt like the station that I put my heart and soul into for seven years just used it as an excuse to get rid of me.
Former Dutch model Faviola Dadis told police in January that actor Steven Seagal fondled her breasts and grabbed her crotch during a 2002 audition at the W Hotel in Beverly Hills. When she tried to leave the room, she said she was initially blocked by Seagal’s security guard — until the star eventually let her leave. (Seagal’s lawyer has denied the accusations.) Since first telling her story to TheWrap, Dadis held a press conference in March along with her attorney Lisa Bloom and another Seagal accuser, former actress Regina Simons. Dadis has since returned to Amsterdam, where she’s finishing her doctorate in neuroscience.
I didn’t anticipate that something that I had gone to therapy [about] years ago would bring about so much post-traumatic stress, basically triggering the entire incident over and over again.
It was really interesting to see the positive feedback that I got. One man sent me a note telling me that after I came out, he took his daughter to lunch and explained to her what it means to be safe, and how to say no.
But then of course you have comments like, “Oh, you’re doing this for money and you just want publicity.” [A lot of] the negative feedback, surprisingly, came from other women. You’d think a woman would understand what it means to be violated in this way.
On an interview with Dutch TV: The reporter wasn’t even a reporter, she was a a B-list local celebrity. After the interview aired, she said on live TV … that she didn’t believe anything I said. That killed me. It was the last interview I did.
Drew Dixon was a rising 24-year-old music executive at Def Jam working with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill and Tupac Shakur when, she said, music mogul Russell Simmons raped her at his New York apartment in 1995 after months of sexual harassment. (Simmons, who has been accused of rape by multiple women, acknowledged “inappropriate conduct” with Dixon but denied accusations “of forced sex or sexual violence of any kind.”) Dixon, who was one of the first to accuse Simmons in a New York Times article in December, left the music business after she said she was verbally harassed by another boss, Epic Records head L.A. Reid (who was ousted from his job in May 2017 over sexual harassment claims by another employee; he did not address Dixon’s accusation but has apologized for any “uncomfortable workplace environment” he might have created).
For me, the decision to come forward has nothing to do with [Russell Simmons]. I’m not thinking about him. It’s about me letting go of the pain, letting go of the burden of carrying his secret, of being an accomplice to his crime after the fact in some ways, by covering it up for him.
Every time there’s a new disclosure, a new accuser, to get 40 texts from people. I’m in the middle of my life and then suddenly someone I know barely will froward me a new article or forwards me a sentence with some salacious, horrible new detail… I really just want to curl up in a ball.
I’m terrified because I’m in this totally uncharted space. But I’m also fearless in the sense that I am ready to just go for it. I discovered an amazing artist, a 17-year-old young woman named Ella, really incredible, an artist I hoped would walk through my door my entire career. And I’m so glad she walked through my door now because I wasn’t ready… and I now feel like I am in a position to navigate her path in a way that I can protect her.
On why the music industry hasn’t had its #MeToo moment yet: I’m really not sure what the bottom is. It’s really entrenched in the music industry culture, it’s a 24-hour culture.
On coming forward as an African-American woman: [I was] worried about adding fodder to the myth of the predatory black man, which I know to be a myth… We fight this uphill battle as a community every day … with life-and-death consequences for Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown. That was the single greatest reason I did not come forward. I didn’t want to be [Mike Tyson accuser] Desiree Washington, who was torn down by the black community.
Zoe Brock shared the story of her narrow escape from Weinstein in a hotel room outside Cannes in 1998, in a post on Medium on October 7, 2017. For many years, she worked as a model in Europe before having a baby and moving back to her native New Zealand. (Weinstein did not respond to Brock’s accusations but his lawyers have denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.) Since last fall, she has been living in Australia with her infant daughter.
In the beginning, it was gratifying and a release to get it out, especially because I’d been trying to have someone hear me for so long. For the most part people really celebrated our bravery and our truth and that felt really good. But the flip side of that has been the constant talking about it. Constantly having to defend ourselves to well-meaning and not well-meaning people online and in real life.
There is a subset, and a large one, of people who do not understand why it had to come out now, and why people went back to hotel rooms. An enormous portion of people are devoid of empathy and unable to see the larger picture.
At the end of 2017, we were all running on shock and adrenaline and anger — we felt we had to band together and support each other. But with that knowledge comes the need to revise my own story and unpack it and look at it. It’s been a domino effect of looking backward over years of almost daily sexual harassment.
On why Harvey Weinstein’s arrest wasn’t cathartic: I don’t want to dance on anyone’s grave. That disgusting person is a father. It’s hideous. But not only that, we know because of the New Yorker that Harvey used his money to intimidate women, and spy on us. I’ve never been paranoid and have conspiracy theories, but now I don’t know if someone is hacking my phone or spying on me. And that’s bizarre, and I resent it.
Nothing has changed. … It’s extremely disheartening to know that nothing’s being done about it. It’s really triggering to have cases go to the police and not be able to prosecute. It’s horrifying when news stories come out about these men wanting to make comebacks. It’s disgusting and triggering and violating to have [men] in Hollywood writing films about our stories — shout out to Ryan Murphy, Brian de Palma [who have both announced #MeToo-themed projects]. … These are not their stories to tell.
Louise Godbold said that on two occasions in the early 1990s her acquaintance Harvey Weinstein behaved inappropriately. In one case, she said he cornered her in a conference room at Miramax’s Tribeca offices and forcibly placed her hand on his crotch. And then she said he disrobed during a meeting in his room at the Beverly Hills Hotel and demanded a shoulder massage before she managed to leave. (Weinstein did not respond to Godbold’s accusations. He has denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.) A trauma specialist and-executive director of the nonprofit Echo, she came forward with her story after the New York Times exposé last October. She held a Silence Breakers workshop for other #MeToo accusers in July.
What I hadn’t really appreciated is that when you come forward and you tell your story, this is something that you’ve compartmentalized… Now suddenly it’s public property. And not only that, you have to keep on telling your story.
One of the things that you learn when you study trauma is that every time you tell your story your cortisol [stress hormone] levels are rising again so it’s a bit like drinking six double espressos every time you give an interview and every time you tell the story again.
I don’t think that anyone can actually prepare you for the double trauma of first of all the sexual assault and then the re-traumatization that happens in the media.
What I hadn’t been prepared for was other people’s reactions: the minimizing, the dismissing, the excusing, not believing you — and it’s a very good reason why people don’t come forward. I didn’t expect to actually have worked all the way through each of those responses in the reactions of the people around me, including some dear friends who have said, “Well, you weren’t raped and this movement has gone too far and you’re just making Harvey the scapegoat.”
Knowing what I know now, I would have done a lot more processing before going on national TV. You don’t want to process this on national TV.
Karen Sklaire was a 27-year-old aspiring actress when she met director James Toback in New York City in the mid-1990s. She said Toback approached her at a street fair and offered her a chance at a role in an upcoming movie. But when she arrived at his West Village office, she said Toback began asking her personal questions about her sex life — and then handed her a script and ordered her to “just sit there” when she asked to leave. She said he then rubbed his body against her leg until he satisfied himself, an experience she described as “humiliating and deeply disturbing to the point where I wiped it out.” She said she even considered changing her name after the experience. By last count, 395 women have accused the Oscar-nominated filmmaker of sexual misconduct. (Toback has denied the accusations.)
This is not the way I wanted my name to get out there… I came forward because I thought it was really important. But for every action there is a reaction. You you have to be ready for a backlash. Sometimes I can handle it and sometimes I can’t. It’s a mixed bag.
It’s hard enough trying to be an artist. I’m trying to raise money for a documentary series on teachers, but now I’m not sure if anyone cares… You go from everyone wanting to talk to you to, a week later, no one wanting to hear from you again. They’re off to the next story and you’re left with a Google trail.
When Jason Boyce’s modeling agent booked a test shoot with famed photographer Bruce Weber in 2014, Boyce said Weber began by groping him and kissing him against his will. Boyce’s account is consistent with other male models who came forward in a New York Times article in January accusing Weber of sexual misconduct. In December, Boyce filed a lawsuit against Weber’s company, Little Bear, and his former agent, Jason Kanner. (Lawyers for Weber called the complaint “false.” Kanner did not respond to the accusations.)
When this whole #MeToo movement started… I saw how brave these women were, I saw them out there with no fear. [What] really helped me was Terry Crews… to see someone that was so strong… It was like, “I have to say something because I knew that there were a lot of young men like me that didn’t have a voice.”
As a straight man, we have our own stigmas and there is a societal stigma with sexual assault… And I couldn’t live with that. At the time I just thought I was just going to die with this.
About life since coming forward: There are some days when I get up and I sit in my car and I cry. I don’t know why and that’s not something that I did before.
Actress Dominique Huett said Weinstein lured her to his room at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in 2010 with the promise of a business discussion. She said that after she reluctantly agreed to give him a “half-hearted” massage, Weinstein took off her pants and forcibly performed oral sex on her while she froze. “I wasn’t familiar with what consent was at the time,” Huett told TheWrap. “I was really young.” Though she did not report the incident at the time, she sued the Weinstein Company last October for negligence, claiming it knew about Weinstein’s sexual abuse for years and did nothing to stop it or the damage she’s convinced he did to her career and reputation. (Weinstein has denied all accusations of non-consensual sex).
I had no support system when I came forward. My friends were shocked. They didn’t even reach out to me. Close friends, from the age of 18. I had lost so many years of not being able to tell them what happened. People didn’t understand. I see people blaming the women. You’re looked at differently.
I’d been in denial for so long, it took me a while to register how violating it was to be put in that situation. After a while, you realize it was sexual assault. It’s been a very long process.
My career definitely came to a halt after the incident. When I came forward I really felt like it took some time for people to digest what I went through. My career was hindered for so long. Anyone who thinks this is a way to jump-start your career is sadly mistaken.
In late January, former Sony Music employee Tristan Coopersmith published an open letter on the website of her wellness studio Life Lab, accusing Republic Records president and Fox’s “The Four” judge Charlie Walk of making “lewd comments,” sending her “vulgar” texts and groping her under a dinner table. At one point, she said, Walk cornered her during an event at his home, pushed her into his bedroom and onto his bed while his wife was in the next room. (Walk has denied the accusations, calling them “upsetting” and “false.”) He stepped down from “The Four” soon after Coopersmith’s letter came out. Two months later, on March 28, Walk and Republic Records agreed to “part ways” after several more women accused him of sexual misconduct.
When I posted my story, I felt for the first time in 13 years so much relief. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s all I had to do?”… And two hours later my phone started blowing up.
I was very naive about what was to come… My social media, all my Facebook ratings for my business, got totally tanked. There were fake Instagram accounts boycotting me. … I was informed by lawyers that I needed to not go to work for the week and to send security with my son to school.
It completely took me off guard. I have a kind of simple pure little life and I was all of a sudden at the eye of this massive media storm, up against someone who has a lot of power in the business.
I was having nightmares, I was having flashbacks, I was having all these memories of all of these experiences that were so belittling. It’s actual stored drama so, when it resurfaces, you’re reliving it… I didn’t sleep very much for months.
When he was a 27-year-old film program coordinator at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theater, Andy Holtzman said that a 22-year-old Kevin Spacey walked into his office, pinned him to a desk and groped him. Holtzman, now a 63 year-old event marketer, said he was an out gay man at the time but that he had never talked to Spacey before. (Spacey’s lawyer did not respond to Holtzman’s accusations.)
I came out at the height of the #MeToo movement and I agonized over whether I should tell my story in that kind of a public forum. I thought it would be a small piece of this big story.
I was upset about being the headline of the article [in USA Today] because I didn’t want 15 minutes, I just wanted to add my voice … [and] say that Kevin Spacey was doing it even in the early 1980s. … It made me look like I was looking for more attention than I was looking for. Some friends said to me, “Was that really necessary to talk about?”
On being one of the few men who came forward: To a degree, it’s tough because there’s a vulnerability thing in there that can also be read as weakness and no one wants to feel too vulnerable.
Paula Williams was a 19-year-old model looking to break into the industry when she met Weinstein at a Spago pre-Oscar party in 1990. A week later, she said, Weinstein invited her to a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills — where she said she was the only guest and the mogul exposed himself before she managed to leave. She said she was too embarrassed to tell anyone at the time. But after the New York Times and the New Yorker published their stories, Williams, now 48, finally came forward in an interview with ABC’s “20/20.” (Weinstein did not respond to Williams’ accusations.)
Immediately [after the interview I] cleaned my Facebook and my social media. I didn’t want to be known as the girl who [came forward about] Weinstein. I was hoping maybe no one would notice.
It was almost scary how fast names were coming out and people were going down and so then I started getting nervous because I was like, “Are we swinging too far? And are we condemning everyone now?” Since this all broke, I went from being real confident about it and now second-guessing it.
You’re not always welcome now. Just looking for a job, people are like, “Oh, she sold out Harvey Weinstein and maybe we don’t want to deal with anyone like that.”
I even have close friends that I could tell were rolling their eyes at my story and they were like, “Yeah, this happens to us in the industry and why are you special?” Good friends of mine thought I was doing it for attention or for money — it broke my heart because it was so hard to do.
There are still women who I know have the same story about Harvey Weinstein and they would just rather not [come forward]. They’re mothers, they have different careers now… And I gotta respect that.