On Thursday, Good Morning America aired Ashley Judd’s first televised interview since she helped lead the charge of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault in a devastating New York Times report from earlier this month. While much of the conversation with Diane Sawyer will be familiar to anyone who has followed the story for the last few weeks, there is still plenty to take away from hearing Judd’s account on camera—namely, an even deeper understanding of the ongoing healing process that victims must go through in order to move on from their past.
As she did with the New York Times, the actress describes resisting Weinstein’s alleged sexual advances toward her in his hotel room 20 years ago, by telling him that she would comply with his demands once she won an Oscar in a movie he produced, and then fleeing the room. “Am I proud of that?” Judd tells Sawyer. “I’m of two minds: The part that shames myself says no. The part of me that understands the way shame works says, ‘That was absolutely brilliant. Good job kid, you got out of there. Well done.’ ”
In a perhaps unsurprisingly bold move, Weinstein—who has continuously denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex via his reps—released a photo to GMA of himself and Judd at a Vanity Fair Oscar party from around the same period. Sawyer presents the photo to Judd on camera, whose immediate response is a very visceral “Ick!” As Sawyer explains it, the photo, in which the producer holds her hand and Judd seems to smile toward the camera, is supposed to show that they were “friends,” according to Weinstein. Judd is having none of it. “No. That’s: Deny. Attack. Reverse the order of offender and victim.” The actress then points to a different photo of the two of them from that same evening and describes her look as that of “abject terror”—that she had been trying to avoid him but he grabbed her hand. “It’s very gross. I feel for that 28-, 29-year-old woman.”
Perhaps the most eye-opening part of the interview comes towards the end, when Sawyer asks her what she would say to Weinstein now, if given the chance. While she told GMA that she’ll “never forgive” his alleged actions, she does also see, through her faith in God, the possibility of redemption. “What I would say to Harvey is, ‘I love you, and I understand that you are sick and suffering, and there is help for a guy like you, too. And it’s entirely up to you to get that help.’ ” Many may disagree with the idea of an alleged abuser and predator being described as “sick and suffering,” and may not understand how Judd could show such compassion for him. But her statement is a stark reminder that victims cope in so many different ways. After all, as she says, “Frankly, it’s an easier way to roll through the world than the alternative.”