Dear Uma Thurman,

I just finished reading your account of some of the abuses you suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. I am grateful that you shared your story, and I want you to know that not sharing it sooner does not shift one shred of the blame from Weinstein to you.

You said, “The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was. I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. . . . And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do.” You also said, “I stand as both a person who was subjected to it and a person who was then also part of the cloud cover, so that’s a super weird split to have.”

What Weinstein did to you and others is the fault of Harvey Weinstein and his enablers. You were not an enabler, you were a victim of his abuse and you did what you needed to do at the time to take care of yourself, to survive. Enablers are those that knew what was going on but were not themselves victimized and said and did nothing to stop it. Yes, you were used as cover for his actions but that does not make you complicit. You were busy trying to figure out how to protect yourself.

This is one of the ways that a culture that tolerates sexual assault perpetuates itself. Women are taught that we are by nature nurturing, that we have a responsibility to protect and care for others. We place blame on ourselves for not doing more to stop the bad behavior of the men who control our access to jobs, to careers, to power, and sometimes to simple survival. And once we feel complicit, we are less likely to stand up. We are more likely to focus on what we could have done differently rather than placing the blame squarely where it belongs: on the perpetrators.

You said that Weinstein took time to work with you and compliment you on your value as a collaborator on creative projects for some time before he first tried to assault you. You said, “It possibly made me overlook warning signs. This was my champion. I was never any kind of studio darling. He had a chokehold on the type of films and directors that were right for me.” Weinstein’s strategy is a common one among perpetrators who target people they know. It’s called grooming and it looks exactly like this: Emphasize to the target how special they are, create trust and a feeling that the perpetrator sees something in you that others can’t see, but that they and they alone can help you develop.

Once he had established that power dynamic, Weinstein forced you to choose between standing up to his abuse and having a career. Nothing in that relationship suggests that you had the power to stop him from assaulting you at a cost less than your career, never mind stopping him from assaulting others. You chose your career and no one should fault you for that, especially not you. It's important there is nothing that we have learned about Weinstein in these past months (and certainly nothing that we already knew about how powerful men often wield their power to abuse women) that suggests that had you stood up to him, he would have stopped or even slowed down his abuses of others. He was a tremendously powerful serial predator who used all of his power and wealth in service of being able to continue to abuse women.

Once and for always: the blame lies with the perpetrators of violence. Never, ever does the blame lie with the victims. Not for you, and not for any victim of sexual assault.

With great respect,

Lisa Scheff

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