TN film community urges victims to speak out - WSMV News 4

TN film community urges victims to speak out

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Allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against producer Harvey Weinstein have come to light in recent days. (WSMV) Allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against producer Harvey Weinstein have come to light in recent days. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Decades of alleged sexual harassment and assault came to light in Hollywood with movie producer Harvey Weinstein at the center of it all.

Tennessee's film industry and sexual assault advocates said the scandal lifts the veil on a longtime problem.

Sexual assault advocates said high-profile scandals actually encourage more victims to come forward. Advocates want victims to know there's a growing support system for them.

Weinstein is a man of power, control and influence in Hollywood as a well-known movie producer. Within that position, multiple women are coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

"They are also often threatened. Maybe it's their job, maybe it's their position, maybe it's their future. In the Harvey Weinstein case, maybe it's that a movie is being held over them or a role that they want,” said Rachel Freeman, executive vice president of the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville.

Freeman said many women will wait years before speaking up. Actors Angelina Jolie and Rose McGowan are among those saying they experienced inappropriate behavior.

"Oftentimes people don't come forward until they feel safe, they feel that they're not alone, and they feel strong enough or have the support system to come forward," Freeman said.

Nancy Puetz has worked in the film industry for years. She is the president of Tennessee Women in Film and Media, and is organizing a film festival in Franklin where they plan to discuss the allegations against Weinstein.

Puetz said the first time she was sexually harassed happened at one of her first jobs in the industry.

"They said you have to be prepared to be on your back to win in the industry or within this thing, and/or you switch to a different department," Puetz said.

Puetz said there was a time when women stayed silent, but she said the dynamic is changing.

"The first way to change things is to talk about it. There is something great that came out of this Harvey Weinstein thing, and that is that people are discussing it," Puetz said.

Tennessee Women in Film and Media encourages women to come to the organization about harassment or assault within the industry. Click here to find contact information for Nashville and Memphis leaders.

Advocates said they are working to educate others to stop it before it happens.

If you are a victim of sexual assault or harassment, call 1-800-879-1999 for the crisis hotline. You can find more information at sacenter.org.

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