It started when reports from The New York Times and The New Yorker accused Harvey Weinstein of decades of sexual misconduct. Since then, dozens of other male celebrities and politicians have faced allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
There seems to be an endless stream of women claiming to have experienced sexual assault. It may seem that these allegations are being created out of thin air, but, by looking at the facts, sexual assault is not as unusual as it seem. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. While sexual assault affects men, as every 1/6 men will be victims of sexual violence, the effect on women is far more prominent. Within the United States, every 1/4 women will experience sexual assault. Further, 90% of all adult rape victims are female.
Sexual violence can have a severe impact on the victim. 94% of women who experienced sexual violence report suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the two weeks following rape. As an even more frightening statistic, about a third of all victims consider suicide because of sexual violence.
These women's hesitancy to speak out against their perpetrator does not mean that their stories are untrue. In reality, about 2% of all sexual violence reports are false. Often, because of the detriment caused by sexual violence, it can be painful and degrading to report the crime. Further, when the perpetrator is an authority figure or someone with power, it becomes increasingly difficult for the victim to speak out, as she feels powerless. Additionally, she often fears that no one will believe her.
There is a stigma in society surrounding sexual violence. It makes people uncomfortable, and the blame for assault is often placed on the victim. In society, it is a popular idea that women who wear clothing that is not conservative are “asking for it.” However, sexual assault is not because of clothing; it is a violent crime that can forever damage the victim. Moreover, the perpetrator could be anyone. There is no “look” that defines a sexual perpetrator.
So what can be learned from the women who have spoken out against Harvey Weinstein, Roy Price, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, Michael Oreskes, Jeff Hoover, Louis C.K., Eddie Berganza, Roy Moore, and so many more? It is incredibly important for anyone who experiences sexual violence to speak out against their perpetrator. Sexual assault should not be accepted as a societal norm; rather, people must remember that it is a crime. Most sexual assault cases do not involve Hollywood or Washington stars. Instead, they can happen at home, school, or work. Regardless of politics, religion, or ethnicity, it must be understood that sexual assault is not acceptable.
To report someone, or even just talk, call 800.656.HOPE (4673).