Bridie Farrell: 'The Conversation About Sexual Abuse Will Be Changed Forever'

Nov 14, 2017

A fifth woman came forward this week to accuse Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of making sexual advances at her when she was a teenager.  Both Democrats and some Republicans have pressured Moore to drop out of the race.

But the allegations against Moore are just the latest in a changing climate surrounding sexual misconduct, or at least the reporting of it.  In recent weeks, people have come forward to tell stories of sexual advances and assault. Allegations have been made against producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis CK, and journalists Michael Oreskes and Mark Halperin - among others.

It is certainly a different climate today than it was four years ago when former US speedskater Bridie Farrell spoke out on Lake Effect about her sexual abuse at age 15 by a teammate who was in his 30s.  At least one other skater spoke out publicly and Andy Gabel subsequently admitted to what he termed “a brief, inappropriate relationship.”

Farrell says she's been watching recent developments closely, and much of what she’s seen has been gratifying. “The tidal wave of women coming forward, having the strength to speak up to their abusers who predominantly are in positions of power – the environment of one woman doing it, two, four, eight – that tidal wave is what’s allowing it to happen."

“From a personal standpoint, every day is really tough,” she says, “but from a personal standpoint, every day is amazing that there’s so much sisterhood.”

Today, Farrell is working to change laws regarding sexual crimes against children in her home state of New York, where the statute of limitations for sexual crimes involving children is five years. 

A hearing on a proposed law to change that is scheduled for Thursday.

Farrell says she realizes that the national conversation regarding sexual abuse may shift in the next week, or the next month, but she remains encouraged.  “The topic of sexual abuse is not going to stay on the front pages forever, but the conversation about sexual abuse will be changed forever."