celebrity

In 2021, we're witnessing a second reckoning.

This post deals with domestic violence, sexual assault, and self harm. It may be triggering for some readers.

In the Australian Spring of 2017, many of us heard the name Harvey Weinstein for the first time. 

We quickly learnt the man behind some of the biggest hits in Hollywood had been sexually abusing and harassing women for decades. 

The allegations against him were not a surprise to many in the entertainment industry. In fact, jokes about Weinstein's reputation had been hiding in plain sight in sitcom scripts and late night talk show host monologues for years. 

But it took until 2017, when several brave women (including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan) came forward and two female journalists broke their stories in The New York Times, for these allegations to become more than innuendo and hushed rumours. Within days of the Times story being published, the #MeToo movement had become a global phenomenon and these women's stories were making headlines all around the world.  

Armie Hammer and his ex-wife Elizabeth Chalmers. Image: Getty.  

In the years since, we've witnessed a reckoning. 

More and more women have come forward, and more and more famous men have been named. 

Bill Cosby, Louis C.K., James Franco, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Spacey, Danny Masterson, Jeffrey Tambor, Steven Seagal, and the list goes on. 

For the first time in history, we were openly discussing what had been happening behind closed office doors and on closed sets in Hollywood for decades. We were examining the power dynamics between influential older men and young women who were hoping to enter their industry. We were dismantling the power structures and cones of silence that had been covering up these crimes for years.

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Suddenly sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the workplace was being discussed on prime time news, in opinion columns, on podcasts, and during acceptance speeches at the Oscars. 

Time really was up for these men. 

Now in 2021, we're witnessing a second reckoning. And this time, Hollywood relationships are the focus. 

In the past couple of weeks many women have come forward to share their stories about two famous men, who they had previously been in relationships with. 

On January 10, Call Me By Your Name star Armie Hammer began trending on Twitter after an Instagram account, House of Effie, shared screenshots of graphic messages alleged to have been sent from the actor's official Instagram account.

House of Effie claimed that at least five women had come forward with similar stories. 

In the alleged messages, which reportedly date back to 2016, 34-year-old Hammer spoke about drinking blood and described various graphic sex acts, which included sexual references to cannibalism. 

"I need to drink your blood," one message read.

"I am 100 per cent a cannibal. I want to eat you," another said.

"You just live to obey me and be my slave. I will own you. If I wanted to cut off one of your toes and keep it with me in my pocket so I always had a piece of you in my possession?" a third message read.

Image: Instagram.  

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It was unclear at first if Hammer's alleged messages had been sent in the context of a consensual sexual relationship, where two adult parties were exchanging fantasies. 

Jokes and memes about Hammer and the cannibal allegations soon began spreading over social media and in group chats, before more and more women came forward sharing their own stories and explaining they were allegedly groomed, coerced and abused by Hammer. 

We quickly comprehended the seriousness of the allegations. 

As a rapidly unfolding story, we woke up to new updates about Hammer every single day. 

We soon learned that Hammer had not hidden his behaviour and had openly discussed his sexual preferences in several media appearances. 

Towards the end of January, 23-year-old Paige Lorenze came forward and spoke about her relationship with Hammer.

The model and design student said during their brief relationship Hammer had carved an 'A' into her pelvis. 

"He basically tied me up and he was doing knife play... Knife play made me the most uncomfortable out of everything that happened.

"He looks over me and says, 'Where am I going to put my initials on you?' He chose a spot and did it," she recounted. 

"I remember it being uncomfortable and very painful but I honestly blacked out. I don’t fully remember how that felt in that moment because I was in so much pain."

Speaking to Page Six, Lorenze also said Hammer would bruise her during sex, and send photos of her naked body to people without her consent. 

In an interview with KIIS FM's Kyle and Jackie O on January 28, Lorenze said she spent Thanksgiving of 2020 with Hammer and his mother. His mum, she claimed, confided in her. 

"His mother was speaking to me about how she felt like, at times, he was like, stuff with the devil, she felt like he was being taken by... she was concerned about it.

"I think that his family knew that he has these sick kinds of tendencies."

Lorenze then referred to a since deleted tweet of Hammer's, a screenshot of which still exists online. 

The alleged Armie Hammer tweet. Image: Twitter.  

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The tweet read: "I woke up around 5am this morning to my mum pouring hot oil on my head and praying very loudly in tongues while standing over my head so she could get the 'demons out' of me. How was everyone else's morning?"

Just as the news cycle was moving on from Hammer, Marilyn Manson began trending. 

Earlier this week, actress Evan Rachel Wood publicly accused Marilyn Manson of being a "dangerous man" who subjected her to years of abuse. 

The Westworld actor, who was 18 years old when she first met Manson, dated the industrial metal musician for several years. When their relationship began, Manson was 36 years old.

"The name of my abuser is Brian Warner, also known to the world as Marilyn Manson," Wood, now 33, shared on Instagram.

"He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission," she continued.

"I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail. I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives.

"I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent."

Afterwards, Wood shared the testimonies of at least four other women who reported allegations of rape, intimidation, drugging, violence, and psychological abuse by Manson.

One woman, Ashley Walters, a former personal assistant of Manson, accused the singer of "psychological abuse".

As the story unfolded throughout the week, it quickly became apparent the accusations against Manson were not new. His behaviour had been hiding in plain sight for years. 

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Wood had previously, on many occasions, spoken about the abuse she had allegedly suffered at the hands of an anonymous ex that she had met when she was just 18. 

In 2018, Wood testified before the United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations as a domestic violence and rape survivor in support of the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights Act.

"My experience with domestic violence was this," she said. "Toxic mental, physical, and sexual abuse, which started slowly, but escalated over time, including threats against my life, severe gaslighting and brainwashing, waking up to the man that claimed to love me raping what he believed to be my unconscious body, and the worst part, sick rituals of binding me up by my hands and feet to be mentally and physically tortured until my abuser felt I had 'proven my love for them'." 

Evan Rachel Wood testifies during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Sexual Assault Survivors Rights in 2018. Image: Getty. 

On Friday, singer Phoebe Bridgers shared on Twitter that she had visited Manson's home when she was a teenager. 

"I was a big fan. He referred to a room in his house as the 'rape room'. I thought it was just his horrible frat boy sense of humour. I stopped being a fan," she wrote.

"The label knew, management knew, the band knew. Distancing themselves now, pretending to be shocked and horrified is f**king pathetic."

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Even Manson didn't shy away from talking about his behaviour publicly. 

In an interview with Spin in 2009, Manson spoke about his split from Wood, sharing that he had called her 158 times while self-harming, before blaming her for it. 

"I wanted to show her the pain she put me through. It was like, 'I want you to physically see what you've done,'" he said.

"I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer."

In his 1999 memoir, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, Manson wrote about how he tricked girls into drinking tequila disguised as beer until they passed out, and made rape threats during anonymous phone calls. 

Both the Hammer and Manson stories will continue to unfold and it's likely more women will come forward with similar stories now they feel it's safe to do so. 

LISTEN: Marilyn Manson and the boy who slept through COVID-19. Post continues below. 

These stories shouldn't have come as a shock to us. They've been hiding in plain sight for years, even decades, waiting for the right time and the right amount of momentum to make headlines. 

It's likely in the coming weeks, months and years more and more women will come forward and more and more men will be named. 

The stories will sound familiar to us. Maybe we will have heard the victim tell her story in the past and didn't take it seriously enough, maybe we heard the abuser speak about it and brushed it off as "weird" or "art". One thing is for sure — we're taking it seriously now. 

In 2021, we're about to witness a reckoning that will allow victims to finally tell their stories and force abusers to stop hiding in plain sight. 

A reckoning that will redefine the abusive Hollywood relationships we've turned a blind eye to for far too long. 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia. 

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