Speaking up about sexual assault
Two very simple words came together in a powerful movement on Oct. 15 when actress Alyssa Milano encouraged her followers to reply to her tweet with those exact words, indicating that they had been sexually assaulted or harassed in their lifetime. This demonstration was inspired by more than 50 women who came forward accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment.
Weinstein is a famous producer who helped found the production company Miramax, which has produced well-known movies, such as “Pulp Fiction.” Weinstein came under fire after The New York Times published a story on Oct. 5 detailing the allegations— going back over two decades— ranging from inappropriate comments to rape, according to The Guardian.
Weinstein used his position of power to harass and assault women, according to The Huffington Post. “We socialize children from a young age by praising girls for their appearances and encouraging boys to be powerful. Those ideas from sociology might translate into sexual harassment, that men who are in power are supposed to be the dominant one,” sociology teacher Leslie Hosgood said.
Among the accusers are well-known celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Cara Delevingne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong’o, Erika Rosenbaum and many more. “He really took something from me,” actress Rosenbaum said to CBC about her experience with Weinstein.
Immediately after the story was released, Weinstein came out with a statement apologizing and promising to do better. “I cannot be more remorseful for the people I hurt, and I plan to do right by all of them,” Weinstein said, according to The Guardian. He is currently residing at a rehabilitation center for sex addiction, according to Business Insider.
The Weinstein accusations spurred many actors to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual harassment. “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp claimed Spacey assaulted Rapp when he was 14 years old, according to The Sun. Other actors, such as Harry Dreyfuss, Roberto Cavavos and Tony Montana, have accused Spacey.
Spacey, in response to the allegations, simultaneously apologized for his actions and came out as gay. Netflix promptly issued an ultimatum to the producers of “House of Cards,” which Spacey is currently starring in, to remove Spacey from the show and condemn his actions, according to CNN.
Also in response to the many allegations against Weinstein, 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 problem.” Countless users responded with their own stories, including Milano.
“#MeToo and I’m still not okay. And it’s affected me with everything I do. It has broken me and I’m trying to pick up the pieces still,” one Twitter user, @ brearei23, said on Milano’s post.
“One in three women report sexual harassment in the workplace and the Centers for Disease Control tell us that one in five women, and one in 71 men, in Ohio will be raped,” Nicolle Huffman, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center representative, said.
Despite the staggering statistics, only 37 percent of sexual assault is reported to police, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “The number one reason we hear from survivors why they didn’t reach out for support earlier was because they were afraid no one would believe them. It takes an incredible amount of courage for a survivor to come forward,” Huffman said.
Any victims of sexual assault can contact and find solace with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. “We provide support every step of the way to help survivors of rape and sexual abuse recover and move on to live healthy lives. We provide survivors with options about their healing process and support them in their choices,” Huffman said.