By ERIK MEDINA
In today’s society, we have a fear of being alienated if we speak out.
Those who are survivors of abuse are treated as if they were the abuser, if they decide to go public.
I believe that in the last few years those who have gone public about sexual abuse have either found it very difficult to get justice or found it easier to drop charges because of the cruel treatment that they’ve received from accusing someone.
Although recently survivors have had a sign of hope or a have finally had a voice.
“For too long, survivors of sexual assault and harassment have been in the shadows,” said Tarana Burke in a statement, who started the Me Too campaign for survivors of abuse. “We have been afraid to speak up, to say ‘Me Too’ and seek accountability. For many, the consequences of doing so have been devastating,” she said.
So, what is #MeToo?
When her campaign began in 2006, Burke’s main purpose was to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly young women of color from low-income communities.
Her approach to the movement was empowerment through empathy. This would help ensure survivors they’re not alone in their journey.
Since 1998, there have been an estimated 17.7 million reports of sexual violence by women according to the #MeToo website. With such high numbers, one would think there would be more talk on this subject, but there is not. Unfortunately, with such high numbers, 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
To put this in perspective, the Center also stated that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
#MeToo hit mainstream media in October 2017, when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
This caused a widespread response throughout the world. Several countries were coming up with their own hashtags. In France, #balancetonporc means “expose your pig” or “denounce your pig,” and in Italy, #quellavoltache translates to “that time.”
Aside from the hashtags, several well-known celebrities spoke out and shared their stories or support. Some examples were Salma Hayek, Viola Davis, Ellen DeGeneres, Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey.
“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men,” Winfrey said during her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 2018 Golden Globes. “But their time is up. Their time is up.”
Despite all this, one question that has been circling around the movement is “Why now?” This has been happening for so long, why have they decided to speak up now?
When a survivor of sexaul assualt decides to speak out on their abuse, we should not put the main focus of their action on the timestamp. Whether they decided to speak out the moment after it happened or 10 years later, what’s important is that they were brave enough to speak on the matter.
Seeing the statistics, the true question we should be asking is why were we not doing more to help those that were survivors of sexual assault or to arrest those that commited the crime?
I believe the reason that so many are coming into the spotlight is because they know they have the support. If they do decide to report their abuser, there will be others that will be there to help them through the process. They will not be alone.