#WHENIREPORTED SURVIVOR STORY: LOUISE GODBOLD
Louise Godbold, Executive Director of Echo Training, trauma expert, and Silence Breaker shared her experience on coming forward about her assault with Voices in Action:
“I pushed ‘publish’ on my blog and went on with my day. That night, I checked and only few people had viewed the blog. The next morning I went to work as usual and was sitting at my desk when…
Direct phone calls from reporters to my cellphone number (how…?), a harried receptionist fielding more calls to the main office number, all of the reporters wanting to ‘help’ me ‘get my story out’. A car sent by CNN. Suddenly their lawyers on the phone. Do I have a witness who could confirm I had spoken about the assault at the time? I make some calls. The first witness screams at me: “I don’t need this, you don’t need this!” Another doesn’t call back (and when she finally did the next day, her wealthy father’s lawyers had obviously briefed her – she had “no recollection of the event.”) The driver of the car becomes impatient, calling me to find out what is happening while the lawyers and producers mull the situation and finally beg off. Tears that night as I watch a drama about a rape victim not being believed. I hadn’t even cried on the occasions Harvey had cornered me, but now my heart bursts. I feel like an animal crawling back into its hole, embarrassed and humiliated, never having anticipated that in telling the truth I would be the one on trial. News media are like ants at a picnic – they come at you in a rush, and then move on without a backward glance once the source is depleted or found lacking. (In the end, two witnesses spoke to the authorities to support my account.)
My family is concerned: Harvey has powerful lawyers, best not to get involved. My boyfriend visiting after a long absence reads into my preoccupation that the long-distance relationship has finally run its course. So on top of now wondering whether journalists are going to jump out from behind trees, whether Black Cube has already bugged my phone, whether I am indeed even safe at the address I have lived at for 20 years but is so easy to find on the Internet, I have lost my support network. Friends and colleagues act like they don’t hear me when I mention anything to do with the story. (Don’t know what to say? Disapproving? Dismissing me as fame-seeking, gold-digging, or any of the other identities invented for me by the trolls?) My son is embarrassed and avoids any reference linking me to this now global story of a sexual predator. I am alone, breathing in a thick fog of judgement, awkwardness and, worst of all, the attempt to make out like nothing is happening. My new friends the reporters are the only ones who want to listen, who ask me all the time how I am feeling, so much so that I can’t feel because their questions get there first and shut everything down so that I all I can do is regurgitate sound bites and hope that I am making sense.
Meanwhile, I’m learning lessons not usually part of the skill-set of a nonprofit manager and trauma expert. Namely, that morning news interviews will require you to leave the house at 4am, and that (relatedly) undereye concealer is a girl’s best friend; the first thing you look for in a new city is a blow dry bar; and that TV researchers are lovely and will spend tons of time talking with you about your area of professional expertise, including insights into sexual assault trauma, but none of this will reach the ears of the presenter who will plop down into the interview chair as the cameras roll and ask you to repeat the story of your assault for the FIVE HUNDREDTH TIME!
Louise Godbold was instrumental in helping bring Harvey Weinstein to justice and works tirelessly as a trauma expert in helping children and adults understand and heal from the effects of assault, abuse, and violence through Echo Training. Voices in Action works in proud partnership with Echo Training. For more information: