Why I Empathize With Woody Allen

On Friday Woody Allen responded to his daughter Dylan’s sexual abuse allegations with a letter in the New York Times. (See New York Times).

When I read the Op-Ed I felt sick to my stomach, and not because I think the famous writer/director is a pedophile, and for the fact of the matter, nor did the experts at the Yale-New Haven Hospital who investigated the case 21 years ago and found Dylan’s claims unsubstantiated.  It’s because I too have been the target of an angry, vindictive ex years after we’ve parted ways.

Seven years ago my daughter’s father, still bitter about the court’s decision to grant me full legal custody and decision-making, a rarity in New York State, shot back by alleging I abused our daughter.

Up until that point, he had been keeping a long laundry list of my “bad parenting” acts, which he gleefully shared with all my daughter’s doctors, therapists and teachers.  When that didn’t work, he started what I call the “Bad Mommy” file and began carefully photographing and documenting my daughter’s every scratch, nick and boo-boo.

It was a systematic approach by an immature ex to keep me unhinged that crescendo in August 2007.  Savannah, 2 at the time, had painted her face like an Indian with Whiteout, leaving a nice long red mark under her eye.  He immediately pounced.

“Did ACS (Administrative for Children Services) contact you?” he called and asked in a creepy, calm voice after he reported the incident.  I still have chills anytime I recall the incident.  His motivate was pure and simple:  make me suffer.  And it worked.

My lawyer tried to assure me that the courts would see through my ex’s ruse.  Still, it’s unnerving to come home from a business trip, as I did, and find an ACS case worker sitting on your couch and be asked in an accusatory tone: “Why don’t you tell me what really happened?”

At the time, Nixzmary Brown had just died.  The case was making headlines in New York because the girl had suffered years of gruesome abuse and torture (e.g., denied food, tied to chairs, forced to use a litter box) from her stepfather because of ACS’ negligence in investigating complaints from the school.  I had to restrain myself from saying when the ACS worker looked in my refrigerator:  “And why didn’t you do this to Nixzmary’s dad?”

Like Allen, my ex’s claims were unsubstantiated, but the smear campaign continues.

I had hoped by now we could put our difference aside for the sake of our daughter.  Instead, his anger has only intensified.  He has stepped up bad mouthing me and discussing our legal battles with whoever will listen, namely our daughter, and recently stopped paying his portion – 23% – of our daughter’s medical bills.

My choices? Take him to court and prepare for his retaliation or never receive the money for a child who will be on numerous medicines for the rest of her life.

So, when I see Dylan and Mia’s Farrow dredging up child abuse allegations 21 years after the fact, and just weeks before the Oscars where Allen’s movie Blue Jasmine is up for three awards, I empathize.  I know the feeling of being relentlessly pursued by an angry ex.

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