Jennifer Siebel Newsom was not required to testify. She reminded us Monday that sexual assault victims face a life sentence.
Siebel Newsom testified in Weinstein’s downtown Los Angeles courtroom just before midday. In those few minutes, her sorrow and shame oozed from a 17-year-old wound.
When asked about Weinstein, she cried. She then revealed Weinstein raping her in a Los Angeles hotel room in 2005 in painful, vivid detail. She had “an out-of-body experience” that left her motionless and “trying to absorb what transpired.”
Please don’t contact me to say she’s acting, that she maintained in touch with her suspected rapist, or that she participated in her own victimisation. Every sexual assault case I’ve covered has used this phrase. I’ve never met somebody who wasn’t eager to argue, “She asked for it.”
No one begs to be raped; I shouldn’t say that. Every victim who testifies in court must relive their tragedy and have their actions and intentions picked apart – a cruel but unavoidable price for justice.
Before Siebel Newsom vowed to speak the truth, she was attacked. Weinstein’s lawyer Mark Werksman called her “simply another bimbo that slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead”
Werksman said all the women testifying against Weinstein “lied to themselves” to make what they did consensually look forceful.
Siebel Newsom’s evidence is gutsy and important not only for this trial, but for every raped woman. Siebel Newsom may have avoided this by avoiding court. The trial would have continued without her, and she may have become a footnote in this hubris-fueled Greek tragedy.
She faced Weinstein and us all.
As the wife of the governor of the largest and most contentious state in the nation, whatever she says will become part of her and Newsom’s public history, especially as he seeks a wider national prominence. There will be few stories about her that don’t reference this moment, whatever the outcome. As a mom, she’ll have to explain all this to her kids eventually.
She can’t avoid the realities she says. Despite her strength, it’ll hurt.
I’ve seen how revealing a sexual assault narrative publicly affects women who aren’t in the spotlight, as the facts show up in Google searches. Imagine celebrity amplifying that and everyone knowing your worst moment.
Many heroic women fought to bring Weinstein to justice. Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor of the New York Times helped start the #MeToo movement and the film “She Said”
Siebel Newsom’s role as governor’s wife is unique. She hinted to the atrocities she’s testifying about in a 2017 Huffington Post post. She wrote that more influential individuals should speak out against sexual assault.
She wrote, “Imagine that for our kids.” When enough people speak out for what’s right, injustices don’t happen.
Siebel Newsom’s testimony won’t repair the world or eradicate patriarchy. By speaking up, she moves us closer to a day when “She asked for it” isn’t a generally legitimate answer to a rape charge.
Seeing the first partner of California speak about her rape means no woman is safe, I’ll tell my kids.
But we’re not powerless, and speaking truth to those who commit violence against us is a tremendous weapon, especially in a powerful woman’s hands.
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