By Hannah Holder
Blog Content Contributor
New year, same phenomenon. In 2017 we saw sexual assault cases against several celebrities and successful people like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Roy Moore. The list goes on. Why does sexual assault seem like it is becoming a trend? To be put simply– because it is.
According to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Assault, national statistics on sexual violence said that one in four women and one in six men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. Considering there are roughly 323 million people in the United States alone, this is a huge number meaning there is a huge percentage of Americans being sexually assaulted within their lifetime. Unfortunately, it is common for a sexual assault claim to go unreported. National statistics state that 43 percent of victims did not report because they believed nothing could be done, while 12 percent believed it was not important enough to report.
As we have recently seen on the news, men and women are beginning to come forward about their sexual assaults thus inspiring others to come forward with their stories from the same, or different, sexual predator. Many of the sexual assault accusations we have seen come from those inside the wealthy Hollywood spectrum. Personally, I believe these types of people think they can get away with anything because they are in power over others whether it is by fame, authority, money or gender dominance.
For example, as of January 2018, former members of the United States Women’s Gymnastics team are currently going through trial against Larry Nassar who is being accused of sexually assaulting over 150 women. Nassar has impacted over 150 lives, and now these women are coming back to impact his. In former Olympian Aly Raisman’s moving testimony against Nassar, she said, “Abusers, your time is up. Survivors are here, standing tall. And we are not going anywhere.”
Many women and men are coming forward with powerful statements about their abuse and it is quite moving to say the least. Recently we have seen rallies, protests and moving words standing up against sexual assault. On Jan. 20 at the Women’s March, pop artist Halsey recited a personal poem of sexual abuse. “This is the beginning, this is not the finale, and that’s why we’re here, and that’s why we rally.”
Halsey and Raisman fight back with moving speeches and they are showing no signs of backing down. However, this is not always the case; sexual assault happens to the typical American, too. Brock Turner is a well-known sexual predator. Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford campus. He was eventually convicted of three felonies, yet was only in jail for three months. This case caused huge controversy due to such a short sentencing for such a horrific crime. In fact, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center states that one in five women and one in sixteen men will be sexually assaulted while in college. Too often sexual assault cases go unheard for college students and the “average” American because they fear the process or the outcome. The Turner case is an example of a “slap in the face” for sexual assault cases due to the fact he did not receive the punishment he should have for the crime he committed and the damage he has done.
2018 is the year to change this epidemic of sexual assault. It is time for voices to be heard, and for punishments to be given. Now is the time to protest, rally and speak words of encouragement for others who may not have the strength to do so. Aly Raisman and Halsey are just two women who have inspired me lately to protest against sexual assault. If you wish to hear more from their speeches, here are the links for Raisman and Halsey.
If you know any sexual assault victims, comfort them always, but also give them space and privacy. Reassure sexual assault victims that they are never alone. Almost every university offers free counseling services for college students, and there is a 24/7 National Sexual Assault Hotline open to anyone– 1-800-656-4673. Be the voice for those who cannot be heard.
Featured illustration by Melissa Monrroy.