Sexual Assault: It’s Not a New Issue, It’s an Ignored One

By Allie Montgomery, Sports Editor and Social Media Editor

Sexual harassment: this is a topic that has been spreading like a virus on media outlets all over the nation. These stories are inescapable and are treated like a new problem. However, for one in six women and one in 33 men, the long silence was deafening.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news for the last couple of months, let me sum it up for you: On Oct. 5, a woman stepped forward with allegations of Harvey Weinstein sexually abusing her. From there, many more victims have come forward against Harvey Weinstein and countless others who have used their power and authority over people to get what they want. This is a big moment for women everywhere: we are finally being heard.

Obviously, this isn’t the first time someone reported sexual assault. This is, however, the first time in an incredibly long time that the person reporting the assault was taken seriously. Remember the Brock Turner trial? Back in 2016, a Stanford student and swimmer named Brock Turner was caught raping an unconscious woman outside of a party. There was no doubt that he did in fact commit the crime, but his plea to not let “twenty minutes of action” ruin his life got him only six months in jail. The mere idea that a privileged male could get away with a crime that changed another person forever sparked outrage throughout the nation. The woman who reported her personal accounts on what happened was being ridiculed for what she was wearing and that she was drinking, instead of pointing the finger at Turner for his actions when she was clearly too intoxicated to consent. These events have occurred so frequently, sexual assault victims have lost their voice in the matter. But now, the taboo around sexual harassment is beginning to cease.

The stories that are surfacing aren’t recent. These stories date back years, and even decades. Why did it take so long for those abused to come forward? It is because of the consequences- or lack thereof- that have been placed on people who commit these crimes. But it doesn’t matter that it is just “20 minutes of action,” as Dan Turner put it in his son’s case. For the victim in a crime like this, it’s not something you can forget about.

According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization that works to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever, they found that people who suffer from sexual assault face mental problems such as dissociation, PTSD, and depression. The pain and suffering doesn’t end when the assailant leaves. In addition, how society treats them in this type of situation doesn’t help the healing process either. That changes now, where the support is so overwhelming that victims who share their story are creating a social movement.

The force field that protected assailants from owning up to their crimes and taking responsibility died around the same time Hugh Hefner did. Big names in the entertainment industry such as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Glenn Thrush, Billy Bush, Kevin Spacey, and Harvey Weinstein all paid the price for their crimes and are now jobless. Though the victims stories showed that these men felt powerful and big, the nation is banding together to knock these predators off their golden thrones. This stand against sexual harassment is long overdue, and now the silent crime is coming to an end. The excuses given like “they didn’t fight back,” “It was a one time mistake,” or “I misread the situation” by the accused and the legal prosecuting team are all feeble now. Especially since the community as a whole is moving to support the people who suffered the most.

Time magazine released its Person of the Year in perfect timing, making the spotlight brighter on the assault problem. With the President of the United States, who is also in hot water, placed as a runner up, a group of women speaking out on their attacks known as The Silence Breakers were granted with the honors of winning Person of the Year. This gave people who were speaking out a positive role in media sources, helping fuel the idea that it is ok to speak out, and that the judgment towards the victim will cease altogether fairly soon.

Though the fight against sexual assault is a tedious one, it’s a topic that needs to be spoken about now more than ever. With the needed support, women will be able to band together and end the silent war they have been fighting for years.