Dylan Farrow 'Heartened' by Response After Woody Allen Allegations

Dylan Farrow 'Heartened' by Response After Woody Allen Allegations
Dylan Farrow and husband
Courtesy of Mia Farrow

02/02/2014 AT 12:10 PM EST

Dylan Farrow stepped out of the shadows Saturday to detail the sexual abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of adopted father Woody Allen two decades earlier.

A day later, the New York Times columnist who broke the story tells PEOPLE the young woman is now feeling encouraged by the supportive feedback that has been pouring in.

"She's really heartened by the response and support she's getting," Nicholas Kristof tells PEOPLE. (Kristof, a friend of Dylan's mother, Mia Farrow, and her brother, Ronan Farrow, first published excerpts of her open letter to Allen on Saturday.) "She sends a big thank you to all those speaking up about sexual abuse and trying to break the silence."

Now 28, married and living in Florida under a different name, Dylan took a huge step coming forward, says Kristof. "She was nervous about what the reaction would be to an essay so personal, but she put herself out there."

Dylan told Kristof she "has been traumatized for more than two decades by what took place" and was belatedly diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder just last year. Then, when she heard of the Golden Globe award being given to Allen, he writes: "She curled up in a ball on her bed, crying hysterically."

She first spoke in October about the abuse, but this new letter (published in full on Kristof's blog) provides harrowing details about what she claims secretly took place in the family's attic.

"[The assault was] far worse than people know," she wrote. "That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself."

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.

Maco recently told PEOPLE that despite Dylan's recent openness, he stands by that decision. "I had to first and foremost consider the child."

Additional reporting by K.C. BAKER
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