"It took all of my strength and all of my emotional fortitude to do what I did," Dylan tells PEOPLE
It was a letter she wished she never had to write, about something she says she wished had never happened.
Dylan Farrow says it took all the courage she had to finally pen the emotional open letter she sent to the New York Times detailing her claim that her adoptive father, Woody Allen, had sexually molested her as a child, she exclusively tells PEOPLE.
“It took all of my strength and all of my emotional fortitude to do what I did this week in the hope that it would put the truth out there,” says Dylan, 28, now a happily married writer. “That is my only ammunition. I don’t have money or publicists or limos or fancy apartments in Manhattan. All I have is the truth and that is all I put out there.”
When she spoke out for the first time about the allegations of abuse in Vanity Fair‘s October issue, her comments were overshadowed by the revelation that her brother Ronan, 26, might be the biological child of Frank Sinatra instead of Allen, which left her feeling “that no one cared,” says a family friend.
Dylan says she thought long and hard about coming forward with her story in her own words. In her Feb. 1 letter, she expounded on the allegations she made in Vanity Fair, saying, “For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like.”
Allen, 78, has vehemently denied any abuse, with his rep telling PEOPLE, “Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful.”
Throughout a criminal investigation and bitter custody battle in 1992 and 1993, Allen maintained that he never molested Dylan and accused Dylan’s mother, Mia Farrow, of coaching Dylan to repeat a false story. Farrow has always emphatically denied that.
In the end, Allen was never charged with molestation. In what was deemed a controversial move, then-Connecticut state’s attorney Frank S. Maco announced in 1993 that while he found “probable cause” to prosecute Allen, he was dropping the case because Dylan was too “fragile” to deal with a trial that would further “traumatize” her. Mia, 68, agreed with the decision, he said. But a panel of investigators from Yale-New Haven Hospital consulted during the investigation concluded that Dylan confused fantasy with reality and had not been abused.
Dylan says she knew she would be taking on one of the most powerful and esteemed forces in Hollywood. Indeed, some of Allen’s defenders claim she wrote the letter – during awards season, no less – to sabotage her father, whose film Blue Jasmine is nominated for three Oscars. Others have said she wrote it to vindicate her mother. (Mia did not see the piece before it ran, a family friend says.)
“I’ve been hearing that a lot,” says Dylan. “I’m happy to answer that. My intention in writing that piece was to put the truth on paper from a voice that was not able to speak before.”
“People are saying that I am not actually remembering what I remember. People are saying that my ‘evil mother’ brainwashed me because they refuse to believe that my sick, evil father would ever molest me, because we live in this society where victim blaming and inexcusable behavior – this taboo against shaming the famous at the expense of their victims – is accepted and excused.”
Her Turning Point
A turning point for her came on Jan. 12, the night of the Golden Globes, when Woody Allen received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, which his longtime friend, Diane Keaton, accepted on his behalf.
Dylan says that she had wanted to share her side of the story for a long time. But, she tells PEOPLE, “After the Golden Globes, my brother Ronan showed immense bravery for standing up for the family and I realized it was my turn to stand up and to tell the truth.”
On Jan. 12, Ronan Tweeted, “Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
Dylan says she knew the letter would draw “backlash.”
“I knew there were people saying I was a liar and that this was part of some smear campaign – some bitter vendetta of my mother’s,” she says. But, she adds, “I didn’t realize that it was going to be a betrayal of this magnitude.”
‘My Brother Has Broken My Heart’
That betrayal, she says, came when her brother Moses Farrow, 36, spoke out to PEOPLE this week.
Dylan spoke to PEOPLE shortly after she learned what her brother had said. Clearly anguished, she sobbed as she said, “My brother has broken my heart. Moses divorced himself from the family a long time ago. I always missed him. I loved him and I kept him in my thoughts. These lies – this betrayal – is unfathomable to me coming from a brother I loved and cherished and grew up with,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” she said, apologizing for crying. “I’m shaking right now.”
She paused, regained her composure and said, “He has betrayed me in the cruelest way imaginable, and betrayed my family and my mother who has loved him since day one. His betrayal is the lowest form of evil that I could ever imagine.”
Moses and Dylan, who were both adopted by Allen and Farrow, and their brother Ronan were at the center of a 1993 custody battle in which both sides testified about Allen’s affair with Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen went on to marry in 1997. Farrow was awarded custody of Moses, Dylan and Ronan.
None of what Moses said is true, maintains Dylan. “It’s lies. It’s all lies.” She stands by her letter, saying, “My memories are true. What happened to me as a little girl … is my cross to bear. But I will not see my family dragged down like this. I can’t stay silent when my family needs me.”
She says there was a time when she adored her father. “Part of the reason why it was so hard for me to write the piece that I wrote was because once upon a time I loved my father so much.”
Dylan says that when her mother heard the contents of Moses’s letter, “She was stunned. She couldn’t believe that he betrayed her and me and the family like this. Her reaction is on par with mine.”
Farrow, who declined to respond to Moses’s accusations, Tweeted, “I love my daughter. I will always protect her. A lot of ugliness is going to be aimed at me. But this is not about me, it’s about her truth.”
Amid the sadness she feels over her shattered family and childhood memories that continue to haunt her are moments of happiness and normalcy. While she spoke to PEOPLE, her husband stood in the background, comforting her.
She says she and her husband met through an ad on The Onion. “And we have been in love ever since. Yesterday was the anniversary of our first date. It’s been seven years.”
“He is the most wonderful man in the world. When they say living well is the best revenge – I have that. My conscience is clean. I have told the truth. I cannot say the same for Moses.”
She also has her family, who she says has always been there for her. “I love my family so much. We are a strong family. We are a loving family. We are a brave family. We are fighters. I love my mother so much.”
She hopes her open letter will help sexual abuse victims come forward and seek help.
“I am hoping to help at least one person out there. And that’s why I spoke out.”
For much more on this story, including details of Dylan’s and Woody Allen’s lives now and an update on all of Farrow’s children, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday