MY ACCOUNTS ON SEXUAL ABUSE AND HOMOPHOBIA
You can find more full posts on my FB page and Tumblr: for those of you that do not have have access to that media I have provided two "pivotal posts" below.
If you go to the Tumblr account there are current and past posts and a sort of mini-Novella from 2018. This novella has not integrated the whole story of my abuse. Until recently, I did not understand my legal rights of expressing my opinions and the truth. At the time, I used it as a tool for healing and preparing myself to talk about the "whole" story. The novella which I named the "Breaking Up Series" deals with several subjects, from building a brand to navigating my way through my C-PTSD diagnosis. It is not a professionally edited story.
AUGUST 13th, 2019 Post: MY FREEDOM (Trigger Warning Childhood Sexual Abuse)
It has become increasingly more important for me that my experiences are completely integrated and my story is told in full. Speaking about parts of my story has kept me safe at times; but it has also put me at risk. I believe that my entire story is relevant and speaking openly about my entire story gives me the freedom that I deserve and the clarity that people need.
My main goal in telling my story in full is to focus back to the abuse that I have survived. With my June 8th2019 post I spoke about my sexual abuse in the workplace and about my father’s domestic violence. I have noticed that since that time those very important subjects have been largely ignored. As a responsible community we cannot let that happen and as a survivor I will not let that happen.
My father, Tom Bulleit, sexually abused me until I was 18 years old. It has been my opinion that he is homophobic, but it is a fact that he is a pedophile. Diageo knows all of this and has continued to back this man. Near the end of this post I am going to talk about a specific incident. Please copy this post in the case that I have to take it down via court order.
From a young age I was touched and fondled inappropriately, posed for photos naked against my will, explicit sexual language was used when communicating with me, and I was shown age-inappropriate sexual media in several forms. I was groomed by all of my parents to never say no to this man.
I also witnessed extreme violence as a young child, paving the way for Tom to continue to manhandle me throughout my adulthood. He smashed my mother’s face into a wall, breaking the wall and her face. I stood between my mother and my father to stop him from beating her further. In addition, I heard several accounts from various sources that he helped to stage a public beating of my mother’s African American boyfriend.
HOW IT INFECTED MY CAREER AND THE LIQUOR INDUSTRY
One of the long-term effects of Tom Bulleit’s sexual abuse, domestic abuse, violence, racism, and homophobia is my current diagnosis of C-PTSD. Tom Bulleit has used this condition that I have to disparage me and to limit my future career. Therefore it is abuse upon abuse. This cycle of abuse must stop. Diageo needs to stop backing a criminal. Tom needs to stop stealing my life from me. It is time for the liquor industry to be under the microscope as part of the national #metoo and #timesup discussions.
I am the daughter of a powerful narcissistic abusive man who helped to create a culture of continued abuse (sexual, physical, mental) with his unlimited access to all three tiers of the liquor industry. Of course this man would easily dismiss that I was thrown on the floor, humped, and bitten at work. Therefore I am a woman who was groomed to accept unacceptable behavior in her public and private life… and this cycle of abuse was safeguarded, upheld, and encouraged by a global multi-billion dollar corporation. My abuse is symbolic of what happens when an abusive man infects a system and helps to create a culture for abuse and trauma to multiply and thrive.
THE SHOWER (Trigger Warning)
I want to share one incident in detail with you (trigger warning for survivors):
As a tween, Betsy picked me up from a nighttime swim practice. She said that she wanted to join the Master’s swim team. I thanked her for her interest in my life, and I asked her to not join. Swim team was one place that was left that was mine and I did not have to deal with the family divorce drama.
Betsy parked the car at the family home in a huff. She went inside and started telling my father that I was a nasty child. I went upstairs to take a shower in the Jack and Jill bathroom. The shower had a simple see through curtain.
Tom Bulleit barged into the bathroom and pulled back the curtain. I tried to cover my newly grown in public hair and cover my breasts. I backed into the corner of the shower as best I could. Tom stood there with balled up fists. I had seen this look before: when I stood between him and my mother’s smashed in face surrounded by empty beer bottles and bloody cloths on the floor.
He began to lunge at me. I may have said no. He left the bathroom. I locked both doors. Then I spent the next 30 minutes to an hour listening to Tom Bulleit run from door to door shaking and banging on them and yelling at me uncontrollably. When he stopped and some time passed I ran to get the phone from his bedroom. When I picked up the phone, I realized that my parents had taken it off the hook.
I got dressed as quickly as possible and I ran down out the back door to the porch outside. Betsy was sitting at the porch dining room table with her back to me holding the phone off the hook. I begged her to put the phone back on the hook. I went around to the front of the house to the edge of the driveway with the cordless phone.
I stood there knowing that I could either call the police and possibly be ignored because Tom as an attorney had pull with the court system, that he may also have pull with the local police, knowing I could be put into foster care, or could call my mother who had also sexually abused me but who might believe me. No child should have to make these types of decisions. I called my mother and told her that my father was threatening to hit me and knock the doors off the hinges just as he had done with her.
While I waited on the curb for my mother to pick me up - shivering with sopping wet hair Tom approached me. He drunkenly said, “Back in my day, the cowards went to Canada instead of going to Vietnam.” He was probably drunk and I have no idea what he was trying to say to me.
As it turns out, Tom Bulleit did have some pull with the court system and he got full custody of me.
The press, Diageo, Tom Bulleit and the Bulleit family have focused on disproving the sexual abuse that I suffered age 13 through using documentation from a custody suit that only speaks to the different subject matter of possible domestic abuse. These documents to do exonerate Tom Bulleit's pedophilia nor the domestic abuse as they cite that both parties were too drunk to give accurate testimony on the event in question. The sexual abuse did not stop after custody suit and continued until I was 18 years old. The domestic abuse continued until I was around 35 years old. For additional accounts on the sexual abuse I suffered including touching, mutilation, photos taken well after my infancy and toddlerhood, explicit language, and child inappropriate material: see these posts about my sexual abuse at age 18, and sexual abuse in the fifth grade.
JUNE 8th, 2019 Post: PRIDE (Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse and Sexual Harassment)
In honor of our Worth and Pride Month we are finally ready to share our side of the story with my father Tom Bulleit. My opinion that Tom Bulleit is homophobic has not changed and has only deepened since I first publically posted on Facebook about my relationship with him in July 2017. I have suffered almost a half a century of abuse by this man. This is a long post that covers the subjects of homophobia, #metoo, my right to equal pay, and the silencing of my role in the history of family bourbon.
My name is Hollis B Worth (formerly Hollis Bulleit). I began writing about my experiences with my family in 2017 when I felt like my contributions had been minimized if not erased. Over the course of decades, I performed a myriad of roles to grow the family business. In my last job as an ambassador, I had the same duties as my father; however, I did not experience the same family business that Tom Bulleit did. He had emotional support and the financial security of the Bulleit family royalty. I was isolated without a financial cushion with the added pressure of having to appear as an accepted part of a family unit, if not an “heiress.”
My parents have never consistently supported my sexual orientation nor seemed interested in wanting to learn how to be good allies. I told my father when I was 18 that I was bisexual. He told me I was going to hell. We did not speak of it again until I came out as a lesbian when I was 33 years old. His initial comments were vaguely supportive, but then he did not want to discuss it. Prior to coming out to my father and sharing my relationship with Cher, he was happy to financially help me with my education, my artistic career, and was receptive to my ideas about the family business.
Thus, from late 2007 on, my private life was ignored and my role in the family business began to shift for the worse. Growing up and throughout my adulthood, my father often bullied me about how I spoke or what I wore to fit into his conservative ideals. After I started working in an ambassador capacity my father held over my head that he got me that job and he could take it away. He often told my friends and colleagues that I was unstable and sexually confused. To diffuse his comments I felt like I had to be a perfect ambassador. I worked many 17 hour days without a complaint and completely sober. I showed up to work on time, with artwork as gifts, and a smile.
For awhile we worked together as ambassadors and I helped the family create a brand, a strategy, and in the absence of a distillery home base I helped create a family visiting template that is still being used today. However in 2009, I had to stop going to the “family trips” because my father’s verbal bullying and manhandling became unbearable. Thank god for Cher, who said the bruises in shape of my father’s fingerprints on my upper arms were not normal and he was being physically abusive.
Cher and I bore the brunt of trying to make that relationship work. We moved cross-country from our home of eight years and a supportive LGBTQIA+ community. Moving to the conservative South was overwhelming and isolating. I remember an incident early on when I mentioned to Tom Bulleit that it would be really lovely if Cher and I could be the first wedding at the Bulleit distillery. My father went quiet and walked out of the room. As the months rolled on, my father became even more controlling about my appearance and tried to get me to scrap my brand so I did not overshadow my stepmother. My partner and I were uninvited from Christmas 2016, and you know how that played out.
Since then, Tom Bulleit has been making false statements in support of my wife and I to his personal and financial gain and to the benefit of the family royalty. He has been expressing my passion for the family business with the LGBTQIA+ community while he was not in any communication with us. We will no longer allow our name and Worth to be used in this false manner especially with our LGBTQIA+ family.
... I believe my father has no interest or intention to ever accept Cher or me as family members. I know that I am not in Tom Bulleit’s last will and testament. I have resolved myself to the fact that I will not inherit anything from my family and that is their right. However, I believe I am entitled to what I have earned on behalf of that family and that is more that the 2% of the family royalty that I have been given.
That 2% is based on the financial documents that we have access to. We came to this figure by adding up the portion of the family royalty that was given to us in the fall of 2016; which includes what I have received thus far from my trust, a house down payment and repairs, and some misc. expenses. This was given to me after working in the family business for over 25 years and I was promised at least parity with my stepbrother. The trust is less than a third of my former salary. We do not enjoy the same security as the rest of the Bulleit family as per social media posts outlining their multiple homes, business ventures, lavish vacations, several cars, hobbies, extensive gun collections, etc.
In 2016, I was not given a copy of my trust when I signed it, nor advised to have an attorney present because I was working on good faith. Therefore, I conceded to housing that trust at my stepmother’s financial firm. I felt like that was a conflict of interest. Especially later when I found out that my stepmother is listed as an executor of my trust along with my stepbrother who is 18 years my junior. I was horrified in the summer of 2017 when I received the actual documentation that specifically states that I cannot pass along my trust to anyone, not even an heir, and the trust can be revoked at any time for no reason.
My partner Cher and I had been together for almost a decade at the time. I would never have signed that trust if I had known about Cher’s exclusion from it. We have consulted professionals in the legal community who see this phrasing as egregious and it could be read as homophobic. Yet, Tom Bulleit has been using its existence to say we are well taken care of and he supports our alternative lifestyle. I can do the math and my contribution to this family is much greater than 2%. Most women these days at least get 80 cents on the dollar.
I earned this money. It is mine to invest or spend as I see fit; into my wife’s & my future security and in support of our political interests which are vastly different from my parents. But what really makes this hurtful to me is that the family royalty benefitted from my silence about my sexual harassment. My father was complicit in encouraging me to keep quiet about an incident that happened to me at an event as I was leaving the venue. I was thrown into multiple pieces of furniture, pinned to the ground, bitten in the face until my skin was broken and bruised, while someone shouted “take photos for Tom Bulleit.” My silence has made the Bulleit family rich as per their royalty payments almost doubling the year after the incident and continuing to grow exponentially year after year because I kept my mouth shut.