- By Carolina Brust, Staff Writer -
2017 has been a conflictual year for the United States. With the results of the 2016 election, the prevalence of mass shootings, and the onslaught of natural disasters to hit our coasts and territories, it seemed only natural that the year would end on a sour note. But we just may come out of this in one piece. These past few weeks, news of sexual assaults and harassment have dominated the news across all networks. Many influential figures in government, media, and the entertainment industry have been accused, such as Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, and more. Earlier in the year, Fox News made a big splash in the media when now-former host Bill O’Reilly was implicated in numerous claims against him. He was later fired. This may have been the push that individuals who had suffered sexual assault and harassment needed to brave the world and come forward with their own stories of assault. After years of these heinous events unfolding with no punishment in sight, it is only right that we come together as a society to go after those who committed them — especially those protected by their ivory towers.
Some may argue that this a witch hunt, that victims are ruining the livelihoods of those they accuse. What they don’t realize is that harassment has always felt like a witch hunt to victims, whose stories are often met with questions such as “What were you wearing?” and “Were you under the influence?” These types of questions hinder investigations and shame victims into submission. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), only 6 out of 1,000 perpetrators are convicted of sexual assault. Victims go on to suffer in silence from physical and mental trauma while their attackers go on in life without a care. This eventually creates a stigma around reporting the crime in the first place.
We have a duty to approach this issue with an open mind and heart, keeping in mind that the only guilty party is the perpetrator. We must send a unified message that no one is safe from judgement, famous or not. I encourage my fellow Angels to stand up against this and to not be a bystander, as any one of us could be affected by this. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault or harassment, please visit the Counseling Center at Carroll Hall and join in #MeToo Mondays to anonymously share your story if you’re comfortable.