As a father of an eleven-year-old daughter, the story about Harvey Weinstein in the paper made me feel very uncomfortable.  A man with a lot of power in Hollywood took advantage of women who were mostly powerless to try to engage in acts I would not want to get into on this page.  For any normal dad, one would be disgusted by such an obvious abuse of power over women.  But as a father who had a daughter who wants to be involved in acting, I am horrified that someone would do that.  And if that were the limit of what went on in Hollywood. I would trepidatiously accept my daughter wanting to participate in the entertainment business.  Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.

From there you ended up having bigger and bigger stars coming forward to tell their side of the tale.  First, there was Ashley Judd then Mira Sorvino followed by Rose McGowan.  With just a few maybe someone with name and power gets away with it.  But then there was the avalanche of names that would follow.  Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and much more would follow.  Each recounted the sordid tales of their youth, trying to get something from the man who would dominate Hollywood for decades with his indie pictures.

And if that were all we could have burned the man and ended it there.  But then came word that Matt Damon tried to crush a story about Weinstein.  Because he knew about it.  Of course, he had some weasily response to what was going on.  Well . . . that stuff happened in private he said.  I never knew about it he said.  It was only stating some guy was a good guy because . . . because . . . I never saw anything he swore.

And then there was Ben Affleck.  Everyone knew he had a reputation as a player.  He cheated on a couple of his ex-girlfriends.  And I wouldn’t have been surprised if he cheated on Jennifer Garner.  But then came the late condemnation of Weinstein from him followed by a denunciation of Affleck by Rose McGowan.  She decried his denunciation as BS because she proclaims he knew about Weinstein. Follow that up with video of Ben Affleck groping a bunch of women and asking them to get out of their clothes and my brain was sent reeling.

And this isn’t the end.  With each passing day, more people are coming out decrying the abuse people in positions of power in Hollywood have been directing towards those trying to make it.  People knew of the accusations by Cory Feldman but passed it off as griping by an actor who was yesterday’s news.  But now one has to ask whether or not Feldman after the death of his friend Cory Haim was the proverbial canary in the coal mine.  How much goes on that we do not know about.

And then hashtag “#MeToo” happened.  Woman after woman came out and told their harrowing stories of being sexually harassed by people of power.  As a father of a daughter, I know that this sickened me to hear this, knowing all of the vile things men have done.  I think that it’s important and cathartic for women who have experienced this kind of violence perpetrated on them to tell their stories.   My concern with all of these accusations is that they come out and all of the people in power remain.  If all of them are true, think of all the abusers out there who are continuing to sit in positions of power.  This scares me.  So I kept thinking about what to do.

With all of this out there, even if only half of the accusations were true, something must be done.  On top of which, I have a daughter interested in the very industry where there seems to be a vast swath of men who abuse their power to sexually intimidate and even rape women who want to get into the industry. While I would want to encourage all of these women with “Me Too” hashtags going and reporting these people, it is their story to tell and not mine.

A Letter To My Daughter –

7 Things To Know About Abusers And How To Stay Away

But what I can do is make sure I prepare my daughter for what happens out there?  I can speak to my daughter and give her the tools to handle the situations that can befall her. And ultimately, I can be the listening ear for my daughter to hear her thoughts and concerns about everything going on out there.  As afraid of my daughter getting involved with these cretins out there, I do not wish to stop my daughter from using her talents in acting.  The following is what I would tell my daughter:

Dearest Bethany,

I love you more than I can say.  I remember the day you were born.  You had me laughing even then.  Your mom was too weak to hold you after surgery and they put you in my arms.  You turned to me and then opened your mouth trying to suck on my shirt.  As cute as this was, there was no way I could feed you with my milkless breasts.  I had to smile and chuckle even knowing I couldn’t be everything you needed.

Three weeks later I finally understood pure joy.  The guileless laugh you exhibited had my heart sing in ways I cannot express.  And then I remember when you and I bonded over me singing to you.  You would sit on my chest and listen while trying to sing with me as I sang “Rainbow Connection” to you from the Muppet Movie.  Singing has always been your thing.  You bring me utter joy.

And then I remember when you got hurt that first time.  I remember seeing the pain in your eyes as you fell down and the tears welled up in your eyes.  I wanted to take away your pain, even when I knew I couldn’t. All I could do was be there for you and hold you.  I couldn’t take away your pain but I wanted to.  Sparing their children pain is a goal of every dad.

So as a father, I would then try to look out for the problems that may befall you.  And if I couldn’t take away those traps, I could at least warn you of them in advance.  I could tell you what kinds of dangerous things may be lurking around the corner.

And yet, I didn’t want to scare you away from the amazing experiences that could be out there.  I would never warn you away from love, even knowing the hurt that loved ones can cause in a way no one else can.  I know you have to experience some things on your own because experience teaches us things in ways no one else can.

That said, I want to tell you some things to remember as you face the world out there.  I want you to be aware of the bad stuff and know how to comport yourself when things are going wrong.  And above all, I want you to know I will be there for you when you need me, and when things seem at their worst, you can always have me there to listen to what you have to say and to love you as a dad who always will.

I know you want to enter into an industry where being liked is the most important commodity.  And the people who finance this know this goes with the territory.  Some people are good.  But there are far too many who then take this fact and use it to abuse people who work for them.  And they do it in awful ways.  While I will help avoid as much bad as possible, I know I cannot always be there to protect you from these horrible people.

As I do not wish to change your goals and dreams because I believe in them and I believe in you, I cannot stop your career path.  But I do wish to give you some things to ponder on your way.  Hopefully, it spares you some pain and grief as your star shines and takes off like a rocket.  As such, I am going to give you some advice.  Here are seven things I want you to know about abuse and people in positions of power as well as what you can do to thrive despite their abuse:

1).  Do not try to take them on by yourself.

People in power abuse others because they think they can get away with it.  They have done it long enough so the belief sets in and mostly they feel impervious.  You will need to go to other people to have them assist you in confronting this evil.  These people in power will try to make you feel alone in your persecution.  Let other people you trust know so you never have to feel that way.  Or have me come in and beat the ever loving $#*& out of the person.  It would be my privilege as your father to do so.

2) Rethink how to accomplish your goals.

You may be the most gifted person when it comes to acting that I know.  You have comedic timing and a desire and drive to communicate and to help others with your talents.  I admire you so much for this.  But when someone in a position of power threatens your career in exchange for expressing his power and dominance over you, it might be time to rethink your goals.

This doesn’t mean give up your dreams.  It does mean rethink how you will accomplish them.  Go to someone else.  Try acting in a different route.  Or maybe create your own content on the web and be discovered a different way.  This way you control your own destiny.  Just don’t get stuck in one-way thinking.  You are a very intelligent person.  I know you can figure your way around the problem.

3) Don’t give in to your fears.  Take action.

People in positions of power who abuse that power count on fear as their weapon.  Yes, the legal cases can be horrific.  And you certainly never should have to re-experience your trauma.  They count on this when they threaten you with violence or with legal action.  They count on your fears keeping you from saying anything.  Don’t believe them.  You do have a voice.  Speak out.

Even if the person never experiences any legal jeopardy, just knowing the word is out there will affect them.  It will affect their business.  And people will be more cautious around that person.  And if it saves the pain of just one woman from experiencing the same thing, you make the world a better place.

4)  Have a posse.

I know this sounds weird from your dad.  But bring people with you to events.  Do not allow yourself to be alone with someone unless they are a child, a parent, or a significant other.   People who abuse others generally do not like to do this in plain sight.  I realize people have done business in a particular way.  Change the way they do business.  Make them not do it in a hotel room or in some enclosed space where no one else may be around.  And make sure when they are around you have others around to keep you safe.  The statement “safety in numbers” is a truism.  Remember that.

5)  Naming names reduce the abuser’s power.

Remember Harry Potter.  What was going on at the beginning of the series?  No one wanted to name the name of Voldemort.  Why did they do this?  They hoped their experience and trauma would just go away if they somehow ignored it.  It did not.  And Harry Potter knew intuitively this was wrong.  The only way to reduce an abusers power is to name that person.  The fear starts to subside and you can confront the evil head-on.  Don’t hide the name as it encourages the abuser in their abuse.

6) Consider carefully the people you associate with.

Find people you trust in your life.  Make sure you do not work with people who you do not trust.  I know this sounds a bit silly. But honestly, develop relationships with people before you work with them.  Do not just jump into a business arrangement with someone you never met.  Doing so puts you at risk.  It may work out.  But it’s like a blind date with a person.  More than likely they crash and burn.  I know this may be hard sometimes.

And if you feel like this is impossible, make sure that you talk to people you trust who know this person in more than business-friendly confines.  Like a blind date, they work out more often when the person setting up the meeting you know and trust.  Your trustworthy friend will know about the person you are considering having a working relationship with.  They can tell you about this person.  Or they can tell you that they do not know this person well enough.  When you do this, you may just save yourself from grief working with someone with a less than stellar reputation.

7) “Everyone else is doing it” and “that’s the way business is done around here” may be funny memes but they are horrible ways to live.

First of all, everyone is not doing it.  Not everyone acts the same way in life about ANYTHING.  And you shouldn’t try to force them to.  But they shouldn’t be trying to force you to either.  And if they do, you need to run away.  Very . . . far . . . away.  And everyone else doing an action does not justify the action either.  If everyone were beating someone to death, that wouldn’t excuse the fact they did that.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where we have seen mass delusion on a large scale.  Whether they be the jihadis or people believing in Comets ferrying them out to the edge of the universe, lots of people can do destructive things.

That’s just the way business is done extends the “everyone does it methodology” to business.  Obviously, certain business practices are important.  Meeting in hotel rooms or private suits are not among the important ones.  Be your own person.  Handle business in your own way.  Do not let others dictate to you how things should be handled.  They may have a right to call a meeting somewhere.  You have a right to reject it.  If it were truly about business, it can always be conducted at an office with other people present.  And it won’t require liquor or any other stimulant to get in the mood.

While I am sure, Bethany, there are a million other things I could tell you when it comes to comporting yourself, or watching out for awful people, some things I cannot prepare you for.  Just trust your instincts, and know I will be here for you no matter what.   I believe in you.  And I trust in you.  So go out there and set the world on fire.  I will just remember you as the small child who could always make me laugh and knew from the earliest moments that your sunshine would make everyone’s world that much brighter.

As you enter into life and into more stages of a field that you love, I hope these things can help you look out for the traps and pitfalls that life brings.  And no matter what, I will be here for you to listen to you and love you unconditionally.  I send along to you my brightest hopes.

Love and Blessings Always,

Your Dad

Continue The Conversation –

To be honest, I thought long and hard before writing this.  And what’s even worse, I wrote a bunch and lost half of it on my computer because of not saving properly.  I thought I was beyond that but I guess not.  Even so, this #metoo movement struck a chord.  But it also made me very sad.  And I just needed to communicate to my daughter about what was going on in the world.  What do you think of the #metoo movement?  Have you experienced abuse or harassment before?  If you have, what would your advice to young girls be on how to handle things?  What would you have done differently?  Having a daughter, I would love to hear from you.

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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life