Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, has come forward about the alleged sexual abuse she suffered as a child in an open letter describing her abuse by Woody Allen.

Dylan Farrow Writes Open Letter Detailing Alleged Abuse

“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me,” Dylan begins her open letter.

The heartbreaking letter, published as a guest column on The New York Times’ writer, Nicholas D. Kristof’s blog, details the abuse that has, until now, remained a somewhat vague 20-year-old accusation.

Dylan, now 28, had previously spoken about the alleged abuse in a Vanity Fair article published in October of 2013, though she kept most of the details for herself. The interview marked the first time Dylan had spoken publicly about the allegations, and the open letter is the first time Dylan has described the allegations in detail in her own words.


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“There’s a lot I don’t remember, but what happened in the attic I remember. I remember what I was wearing and what I wasn’t wearing,” Dylan told Vanity Fair.

Dylan, who was seven at the time of the sexual abuse allegations, says in her open letter that the attic incident later described in her open letter was an isolated incident, but that Allen had manipulated her and sexually abused her on a daily basis in a more subtle way. Whether it be making her sit near him on the couch or get into bed next to him to sleep.

“For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out,” Dylan writes.

Dylan insists that she believed Allen’s behavior towards her was how a father expresses his love for a daughter and that she was the one who was wrong for feeling uncomfortable. In her open letter, she accuses Allen of using his relationship with the barely-legal Soon-Yi (she was either 19 or 21 at the time the affair was discovered in 1992), another one of Farrow’s adopted daughters, to discredit Farrow and Dylan’s accusations of abuse.

“When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly didn’t know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me,” Dylan wrote.

Dylan describes her ordeal as a seven-year-old victim and mentions the pressure she felt to recant her statements during the investigation that followed her accusations. She further accuses investigators and psychologists and other doctors of fudging their findings because of Allen’s status as a well-respected, world-famous director. Allen was never charged with a crime pertaining to Dylan Farrow, and the judge found the evidence of abuse inconclusive.

“Sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child,” she writes.

Dylan concludes her letter by giving a reason for her decision to finally speak out on the allegations of abuse:

“For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason not to be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.”

Cate Blanchett, Lena Dunham Respond

Dylan also confronted actors who have stared in Allen’s more recent films, such as Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett, who is up for an Oscar for her role. Blanchett commented on the open letter, saying that she sympatized with was was clearly a difficult family situation.

“It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace,” Blanchett said.

Lena Dunham also commented on the open letter, posting a link on her Twitter page and praising Dylan’s writing as “courageous, powerful and generous.”

Dylan’s brother, Ronan Farrow, also tweeted a message of support for his sister.

Ronan made it clear he would not be commenting further on Dylan’s accusations, though he previously tweeted about them during Woody Allen’s tribute at the Golden Globe Awards, as did Mia Farrow. In support of her daughter, Farrow tweeted links to the two Vanity Fair articles – one from 1993, the other from 2013 – that exposed the alleged abuse.

Woody Allen Denies Allegations, Will Respond Soon

Allen, in a rare move, has also released a statement through his representative Leslee Dart:

Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. He will be responding very soon. In the meantime, it is essential that your coverage make the following facts clear:

“At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court appointed independent experts. The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation; that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality; and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow. No charges were ever filed.”

Allen’s attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, also released a statement on the letter, clearly faulting Farrow as the source of the allegations, saying, “It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.”

It is unknown when Allen will release his response. In the meantime, Dylan’s open letter certainly opens up a discussion on how Hollywood and American society responds to allegations of sexual assault and the testimony of sexual assault survivors themselves. As Dylan writes, “Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.”

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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