‘Friendly’ emails are not evidence that Harvey Weinstein did nothing wrong

Jessica Gold, assistant professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine


his week, the criminal trial of Harvey Weinstein is finally underway. Though over 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct, including harassment and assault, he is facing only five charges in New York state, all hinging on reported assaults against two women.

Weinstein’s strategy for the trial appears to be the same as it has always been: deny the accusations and discredit the accusers.

His defense attorney revealed in a recent interview that “friendly” emails sent to the media mogul from some of his alleged victims will be central to this strategy. Messages like “Miss you, big guy,” and “I appreciate all you do for me” were highlighted. The lawyer insinuated that if Weinstein was such a bad person, these women would have run far and fast from him, instead of trying to court a connection.

As trauma mental health professionals who spend a good deal of time working with sexual abuse survivors, we know this is simply untrue. What perpetrators, and people who protect them, don’t want you to know is that this is a common response to a very abusive power differential. In the field, we refer to this behavior as traumatic bonding or Stockholm syndrome. This is not friendship, or mentorship, or even a relationship. Many sexually abused women just call it survival.

Read the full piece in Newsweek.

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