Why sexual abuse continues to be a problem in Hollywood

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Hollywood

Many people go to Hollywood with dreams of becoming a star. But as we’ve seen over the last few years, the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry are not all it’s cracked up to be, as many who work in Hollywood endured sexual abuse by industry kingmakers.

While many in the industry have spoken out about sexual abuse and held well-known sexual predators accountable, how the film and television industry operates can play a role in why it still happens today. So, how does sexual abuse continue to be a problem in the first place?

Institutional betrayal can play a vital role

Introduced by University of Oregon psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Freyd, institutional betrayal happens when an institution mistreats someone who depends on it. In the film and television industry, institutional betrayal can occur when a production company ignores an actor’s claims of sexual abuse by someone in a position of power.

Many people go to Hollywood to work in film or television. Because the industry is so competitive and the chances of landing a big role are often slim, talented and determined individuals can get taken advantage of by institutions that can make or break their careers. And if survivors make claims about a specific director, producer or film executive, those same people may threaten to ruin their career and windup on Hollywood’s blacklist. It’s why many survivors in the industry stay silent for so long. They feel like they’ve achieved the impossible and could lose everything they’ve worked for if their abuser speaks poorly about them. For some, the last thing they want is to jeopardize their career, even if it means more mistreatment.

The line between professional and abusive isn’t always clear

The film and television industry is unlike any other. The boundaries are often unclear. People are not dressing up in suits and working in cubicles all day. Actors must often be open and vulnerable in their roles. Some may play characters who are charming and seductive. Or, they have to fake sexual acts for a scene. There can be a blurry line between professionalism and abuse when auditioning for roles that involve these elements. It’s why some actors have grown accustomed to inappropriate behaviors by those in power, even when those behaviors become abusive.

The fight is far from over

The #MeToo movement in recent years has helped shed light on the rampant sexual abuse in Hollywood. It’s given more people the courage to speak up. However, sexual abuse is still happening across the industry and more people are still facing mistreatment, meaning the fight is far from over. While a lot of work needs to be done to change the system as a whole, individuals in the industry can still take action against their abusers and hold them accountable with experienced and aggressive legal counsel.