The More Things Change…
We all know how this ends. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This can be applied to so many things going on in our world today. For now, I’m going to focus on the issue brought to the forefront by Harvey Weinstein. The subject of these latest headlines, the sexual assault and harassment of women, particularly by powerful men, remains a problem for us all.
I say a problem for all of us because this is not and should not be a “woman’s problem”. This is a human problem and affects women, men, young children and the elderly. It needs to be addressed by every single one of us. I’m saddened by the fact that this problem still needs to be addressed and the behavior still enabled by some. As evidenced in the news these days, it appears that we’ve made little progress on a number of issues.
According to statistics found on the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) website, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds! This number totals hundreds of thousands every year. One out of every six American women has been or will be a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. These numbers, while shocking, are also sadly believable to many of us. I would venture to guess that many women are quite familiar with the various forms of sexual abuse that are used against us. Many times, we are made to feel that we are at fault, that we are somehow responsible for what happened. That’s the way these abusers work. This is NOT true; we are NOT responsible for these assaults and it’s important to know that assistance is available to help us manage the process of healing.
Sexual assault can include any number of things ranging from unwanted sexual touching to rape. There are also several various categories within the scope, including child sexual abuse, domestic partner abuse, military sexual trauma, incest, elder or disabled abuse, sexual harassment in the schools or workplace, and sexual exploitation by a helping professional (such as doctor, therapist, policeman, etc.).
As you can tell by the above (incomplete) list of possible assault scenarios, this does NOT just affect women. It can affect anybody in your life: yourself, your mother, your sister or brother, your son or daughter. Sadly, 63,000 children a year are also victims of sexual abuse. It’s up to each one of us to protect ourselves and those we love to the best of our ability. Learn more about safety and what you can do here.
It’s disheartening to know that 2 out of 3 assaults typically go unreported to authorities. There are various reasons for this including fear of retaliation. This brings us back to the current moment where Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and others have all been allowed to continue living their lives without being stopped. We end up hearing about the vast number of women affected after someone comes forward in a public enough manner that others feel justified or confident enough to share their story. It shouldn’t happen this way. I don’t care if you’re in Hollywood, in politics, or a regular Joe, every single experience is just as important as another and needs to be taken seriously and addressed as the crime that it is. Unfortunately, many victims of abuse are threatened or coerced into remaining silent and the horrific behavior is allowed to continue. It’s disturbing that, even when there are reports of abuse, the abuser is allowed to continue to succeed in their career and life while continuing their cycle of behavior, many times for years. I don’t understand how we can allow this type of behavior to continue, whether on a personal level, in the workplace or in government. How is this behavior even remotely considered to be tolerable?
It’s a sad state of our country when victims do not feel safe in coming forward immediately, where they fear for their safety, reputation, job, or repercussions against them. This should not be allowed. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman; it’s our responsibility to be supportive and to be respectful when these accusations are made. We should support each other and provide assistance whenever we can. For those directly affected, my heart hurts for you and I’m sending prayers your way on your healing journey. Be strong and know that you have support.
For those of you that need assistance, you can call the 24/7 number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
I would encourage everybody to learn more about this issue. You can learn to recognize the signs, actions to take, seek help and treatment, or just talk to somebody. Find out more here.
Contact them directly here.