Why This is the Moment to Talk About Sexual Assault

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. What we’ve been seeing has been dubbed by many as “The Weinstein effect”, where after the breaking of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment and abuse scandal, many other powerful men in other fields, including entertainment and politics, have had allegations released against them.

Now, in some cases, these were men who had been rumored to be predatory for a while (Kevin Spacey and Louis CK), while in others it seems to have come out of nowhere (George Takei and Al Franken). In any case, it’s clear that this is an important cultural moment of talking about sexual assault and harassment. But why now? This has been a problem for a very long time. Here’s why this is the moment:

Social Media:

In the past, there were very few ways for survivors of sexual assault to come forward, especially if the media wouldn’t take them seriously. Now, however, sharing stories of sexual assault is easier than ever. And while it’s sadly true that talking about it can bring in trolls and mean comments, it can also bring tons of support from friends and strangers right away.

Also, because of all these things coming out at once, survivors feel more empowered to talk about sexual assault because they see others doing it as well. And thanks to campaigns like #MeToo, social media has allowed survivors of sexual assault, even those who don’t want to come forward, to feel less alone.

Investigative Journalism:

Allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, and Roy Moore might have gone nowhere if not for the hard work of investigative journalists who meticulously researched and wrote about these claims, working for long periods of time to bring these allegations to light.

The Harvey Weinstein case came to light thanks to the work of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at The New York Times and Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker. Kantor, along with Melena Ryzik and Cara Buckley were responsible for bringing the allegations against Louis CK to light, though the now-defunct website Gawker did report on it back in 2015 .

And though Mr. Moore has deflected the allegations against him as some sort of leftist conspiracy, they are backed up with dozens of interviews and facts by three incredible reporters from The Washington Post: Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard, and Alice Crites.

People Believe Survivors:

This is pretty simple. We live in a culture that actually trusts those who come forward to talk about their experiences of sexual assault. The truth is, very few people lie about sexual assault. After all, coming forward about this type of thing can be extremely traumatizing, and come with very few benefits, and you have to hear people publicly calling you a liar and saying derogatory things about you while uplifting the person who has abused you. I think we are finally in a moment, however, where the bravery of survivors is finally rewarded by our willingness to believe people who do come forward.

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