Many Americans were left astonished on Oct. 5, when The New York Times published an investigative report by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. The piece brought to light the sexual assault allegations by mega Hollywood icon Harvey Weinstein taking place for nearly three decades. Since the report, over fifty women have come out with allegations against Weinstein and more celebrities have been caught in the line of fire when it comes to sexual assault.
So the question is, Why Now?
If all of these allegations against one of Hollywood’s biggest producers are accurate, why are they just coming to the surface three decades after the incident? The piece published by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey was only the beginning for what is now becoming a movement. Ten days after the article was published, actress Alyssa Milano sent out a tweet that included two simple, but powerful words, “Me too.” The tweet went viral on social media, encouraging victims of sexual assault and harassment to come forward.
Not only are allegations coming out about Hollywood elites like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and Russell Simmons; but now political leaders like Roy Moore, business owners and even family members are being exposed. Thanks to various online mediums at our disposal, individuals are now able to shine light on an issue that buries its self in the hearts of those suffering in silence. #Metoo has now become the voice, a symbol, for the victims whom have been living in silence.
Getting the word out is only half of the battle. Making law enforcement aware is a necessary step in preventing others from falling victim. According to the National Institute of Justice, The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that the majority of rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated against women and girls in the United States between 1992 and 2000 were not reported to the police. Only 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes, and 26 percent of sexual assaults were reported.
Medical professionals have also stepped up to the plate, acknowledging that #MeToo can be a reminder to mental health care professionals to consider sexual abuse a prevalent phenomenon.
“#MeToo can be the beginning of a re-framing of the discussion of sexual abuse. It’s a powerful opportunity for mental health professionals to intensify their efforts to support survivors,” Medical Director of the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine, Joel L. Young, M.D explained.
So where do we go from here?
One of the many resources available to victims of sexual assault is RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. according to the website, RAINN has helped more than 2.5 million sexual assault victims since the organization began in 1994.
RAINN offers around the clock service, safety tips for student and parents, laws concerning sexual violence and even stories from victims. Outlining the proper procedures to report sexual assault, RAINN also provides answers for the many frequently asked questions received.
Although victims can utilize social media to publish their voices and raise awareness, it is crucial to note that there are organizations geared toward reporting and stopping sexual assault while keeping victims anonymous from public eye. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey have exposed the sexual assault corruption in Hollywood, now it’s the victim’s responsibility to unveil a crime as it occurs.
If for any reason you feel that you are a victim without a voice, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-4673.