British actress Lysette Anthony: Harvey Weinstein’s victims, like me, can’t be silenced

In the early 1980s, around the age of 19, I flew from England to the Big Apple for my first international movie promotional tour.

Educated in a convent school, I was as green as they come and I did as I was told. So, when the head publicist in charge of my schedule told me that I was to have dinner with a man, it did not even occur to me to question why. I naturally assumed it was a work dinner.

After a long day of interviews, I, a teenager, was handed over in the hotel lobby to a considerably older stranger, as though I was a gift. I was abandoned to fend for myself. Instead of sitting down for an interview, I was taken on a touristy horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park.

I still remember the publicist’s parting words, that it would be good for me.

That stranger turned out to be Harvey Weinstein. It was uncomfortable, but I wanted to be polite. So, as the carriage made its way through the park, I pleaded jet lag and insisted on being taken back to my hotel.

He gracefully obliged, and we stayed in touch and actually became friends over the next few years. But our first meeting, shockingly unprofessional and inappropriate, whispered of the controlled destruction to come.

Years of struggle

Years later, on a gray London morning in the late 1980s, the nightmare that still haunts me began.

Weinstein wobbled down the steep basement stairs to my flat. Uninvited and without any encouragement from me, the man I had for years valued as my friend knocked on my front door, wordlessly shoved me back into the cramped hallway and, against my coat rack, heaved and rammed himself inside me. 

A little of me broke that day. My trust had been soiled. I was now a statistic. Yet that was the easy bit. The real nightmare was about to begin, and it would last for many hopeless years.

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I’ve been told that severe trauma can cause memory blackouts. The best way I can describe my memories of that sullied time is as though they are shards of glass, disjointed, frozen in amber — the struggle, the precise death throes, preserved. Rape is not about sex. It’s a slaughter — of hope, of desire and, most certainly, of dreams.

Most of my following years were both defiled and terrorized by Weinstein. After that grim morning, he wouldn’t let me go. Call after call came in from agents and assistants for me to meet him. When his requests went unanswered, he deployed his tactics to personally and professionally torture me — as he did with many others. The pattern is tragic. For us, his victims, we were marked with a dark, unerasable stain. Shame on all his enablers who turned a blind eye.

Actress Lysette Anthony in an interview with Channel 4 News from the BBC. (Photo: YouTube)

Each time I believed I had gotten away, I seemed to face a professional consequence. I had major film offers withdrawn. I was sacked inexplicably by my agents. The most bizarre was being hired for a Miramax film (the company co-founded by Weinstein), flown across the world to the jungle of Papua New Guinea only to discover that the movie had no script, no director who would meet me and colleagues who refused to even look me in the eye. While the film was made and I was credited, it wasn’t me — the English wife role was reshot with someone else at a studio in London. Then, while I was coming home via Australia, my manager sacked me.

That was a long trip to simply be humiliated. But I certainly got the message loud and clear. I was trapped. It nearly finished me off.

Yet the worst was still to come. Weinstein’s sexual assault in the early 1990s of my best friend, Louise Godbold, sent me into a deep depression and led me to suicidal thoughts. When I phoned to confront him, his cold, succinct response was not to let a misunderstanding ruin our friendship.

From that moment on, I learned to play by his rules.

Weinstein’s time of terror is up

It has taken me decades to publicly file a crime report and share this experience with the world. My sense of shame at being marked and soiled was a silent burden, until I heard the brave voices begin to chime, a chorus of mirrored stories — “Me too, me too,” the voices cried, “he hurt me too.”

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The sheer number caused our voices to grow to a mighty roar. Weinstein’s vile rule is shattered. How beautifully ironic that, by adding my name to this choir, I have rediscovered a little of that self-respect he robbed me of.

It’s important to remember that the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements are only a little more than two years old, and when they launched they were not the everyday phrases they are today. No one was listening or bothered to take seriously the whispers in the industry. But together, we, the global Silence Breakers, have found that our combined voices can break through the silence that once controlled us.

This week, jury selection in the case against Weinstein began. Finally, thankfully, he must face the law. This trial is significant, even as he and his lawyers try to silence and discredit us, because it shows predators that their time is up.

The world now knows the core character of this man, who employed spies, ex-Mossad agents and private investigators to build files and undermine the reputations of his so-called friends. Dogged reporting and the accounts of brave women reveal the brutal, strategic and efficient methods he used to attempt to silence his accusers.

This week, shortly after the first day of his trial in New York, the Los Angeles district attorney announced that Weinstein is also charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another. Meanwhile, the London Metropolitan Police is conducting an investigation. Here in the United Kingdom, there is no statute of limitations on cases involving sexual abuse.

My postcard from the edge of Weinstein’s reign of terror is simple — times up, friend.

Lysette Anthony is an actress on the British television show “Hollyoaks.” Follow her on Twitter: @chezLysette

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