In recent weeks the open secret of the ‘casting couch’ experience has been hitting headlines. Rumour and innuendo has come into stark focus as women who lived in craven fear of losing their status in the movie industry are coming forward and opening up about the abuse they experienced at the hands of one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.
It all seems a long way away from here but in some respects New Zealand had its own casting couch experience when in 1993 Louise Nicholas took courage and spoke out about the police officers that she alleged had raped her a decade earlier.
She too was afraid and thought no-one would believe her. She too fought for truth when the perpetrators were protected by colleagues. Accounts of the abuse of power during those times is chilling reading.
Nicholas persevered when immense pressure was put on her to fold and we know the story, we know the result wasn’t ideal but in the end the truth was exposed. As for Nicholas, she went on to champion women’s rights and deservingly won prestigious awards for her work.
We are reminded that her experiences have made new pathways for women who face the same type of abuse. These stories encourage all women to speak out and there is now good infrastructure to support and walk with women going through the process of finding their own justice.
I take my hat off in respect and celebrate Nicholas and brave women like her. What they have done is not easy but it’s the right thing to do, and they and those like them in our own backyard deserve our support.
(09) 623 1700 HELP 24/7 – Helpline for sexual abuse survivors. www.helpauckland.org.nz
(03) 377 6747 MSSAT – Helpline for male survivors of sexual abuse. www.survivor.org.nz