Right now, there is a feeling of openness in the air that’s giving people the courage to come out of the dark and share painful secrets of abuse they’ve suffered. The entertainment industry, political arena...anywhere sound can travel has seen people coming forward to speak of their experiences of abuse at the hands of powerful figures. Actors, students, administrators, workers...at all ages and all stages of life have stories to share.
So what is the impact of all of this on our industry? And will that impact endure and create permanent changes or will things go back to how they were before this abuse came to light? Are there so many people coming forward that it’s just too overwhelming, making us jaded with each new report as we feel less and less surprised? Are we at risk of our anger and indignation turning into a “not surprised” reaction?
But here’s the thing to remember: the future is up to us. It depends on what we choose to do, how we choose to react, the actions we take. What we do now will determine what the future looks like. So in the hope for growth and change, here are a few things to think about.
If sharing secrets and overcoming the fear of repercussions is the road to stopping abuse, how can we keep the channel open for disclosure without shame?
First and foremost, help the victims. Encourage and support anyone who’s been a victim. Educate yourself about treatment options and how to speak to someone who was victimized, harassed or abused without making them feel shamed or less-than. Encourage open discourse and stand by anyone who has the courage to share.
How can we change the culture?
Educate people about the fact that abuse can take many forms, and start the discussion from an early age. Don’t shy away from teaching your children what is ok and what is not ok, what abuse is and the forms it can take, and what to do if they experience or witness it.
Champion conscious-raising support groups for both men and women to create understanding and keep awareness top-of-mind. This is everyone’s problem to solve, so make everyone part of the conversation.
Use your platform as an actor to campaign for stricter laws and policies regarding what happens in auditions, on sets, and in all workplaces. Make your voice heard, all the way up the line, until the most powerful elected officials must listen.
Work to help and support more women entering positions of power. Engage and give incentives to companies in offering employment for diversity and women.
And, finally, talk. Keep the conversation going. How is it that we find ourselves in a culture where our hopes and dreams create opportunities for this kind of criminal behavior? How can we all stand strong against abuse, making it a priority to change the status quo? Be fierce and fearless about sharing support. Feel proud of those who do—they are heroes.
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