The allegations against Harvey Weinstein are coming thick and fast. Harassment, abuse, and even rape— a long list of women have shared their experiences and evidence is mounting. One of the most damning pieces is a truly disgusting audio recording of him, desperately and pathetically pleading with a woman who he appears to have assaulted, begging her not to “embarrass” him in a hotel he frequents. And while each woman is brave to come forward and should be applauded, when seeing the vast number of women who have been victims we have to ask— how has this been allowed to go on for so long?

It was allowed to go on because too many people stayed silent. They protected him. Seth McFarlane was joking about it publicly years ago. People knew. Women warned each other. But still, it was allowed to go on. Weinstein was able to buy silences, to bully, and to keep abusing women, often young actresses trying to get their career off of the ground. And Hollywood let it happen.

Listening to women recounting his experiences, it was clear just how shameless and aggressive he was, threatening their careers and physically overpowering them.

“He talked to me about a film he wanted to make about World War II and then he began to tell me that he found me very attractive and wanted to have an affair with me,” Florence Danel said. “I told him I was very much in love with my partner, but he said that that didn’t worry him and he wanted me to be his mistress for a few days a year. That way we could work together. Basically, he said that if I wanted to make it in America, it would be through him.” 

“We were talking on the sofa when he suddenly jumped on me and tried to kiss me. I had to defend myself. He’s big and fat, so I had to be forceful to resist him,” Léa Seydoux explained.

He was attacking women. He was threatening women. And still, people around him were silent. And the silencing hasn’t fully stopped. Even since it has all come out, there are signs of censorship. Rose McGowan— one of the most vocal critics of not only Weinstein but those were silent about and complicit in his abuse— has had her Twitter account ‘limited’.

We need to stop giving abusers impunity by staying quiet. Being silent doesn’t just mean you’re complicit in the abuse you’ve seen— it means that you help to create an environment that breeds more abuse. Abuse and harassment that gets bigger, that gets more violent, that hurts more people. Every time we ignore something, we write it off as harmless, we label it a misunderstanding, it gets worse. Weinstein’s alleged rampant harassment and abuse shows just how far it can go if we don’t speak up. We need to learn from this. We can’t let it happen again. It’s time to open our eyes and it’s time to speak up. It’s time for this to stop.