A Trauma Expert on Harvey Weinstein: "That Kind of Sexual Assault Is About Power" (Guest Column)

Photographed by Coral von Zumwalt
Louise Godbold

Louise Godbold, who also was among Weinstein's victims, says she doesn't believe he is a sex addict: "What must change is the power relationship — not that some people have power and some don't, but how we use it."

As executive director of the L.A.-based nonprofit Echo Parenting & Education, I know about trauma and how to recover from it. If you've been physically or emotionally harmed when you had no control over the situation — which is what happened to all of us who had encounters with Harvey — the way to heal is to take back control. Get a handle on your narrative. What I didn't expect, when the story broke, was that it would feel so big personally, even though it wasn't the worst thing that had happened to me. What it did was bring up childhood sexual abuse that I had not thought about in a long time.

If you experience sexual abuse as a child from the people you trust, your sense of what's dangerous gets totally skewed. We call that losing danger cues. It is no mistake that I ended up in that hotel room with Harvey because someone like me doesn't have very good danger cues. I think that predators scent us out. I wonder how many of us who have come forward had previously experienced trauma in some fashion.

I don't believe that Harvey is a sex addict. That kind of sexual assault is about power, and he had unbridled, unchecked power. Abuse of power manifests in different ways. I've seen women in this industry throw things at their assistants. For him, it was sexual assault. What must change is the power relationship — not that some people have power and some don't, but how we use it. In my work, we talk about "power with" rather than "power over." Power over is really harmful because it sets up a cycle. The oppressed becomes the oppressor, and the cycle continues.

This story first appeared in the 2017 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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