Authors note: This article contains information about sexual assault.
With recent events unfolding in Hollywood, women are rising under the hashtag #MeToo and having their voices heard for the first time in a very long time.
The world is beginning to appreciate the sheer scale of sexism and misogyny in the 21st Century (which Laura Bates had already evidenced in her book ‘Everyday Sexism’).
Importantly, people – men and women – are listening to each other; what’s being said is literally changing lives, and creating a new platform for equality.
It’s an amazing shift. I’ve written before that it’s a wonderful time to be alive as woman. So what happens next? Is there potential to steward this movement, keep it alive and moving in the right direction?
The World will be saved by the Western Woman. The Dalai Lama
Maybe it’s starts with continuing to hold space for each other. I don’t just mean women; men are coming forward to talk about their own experiences of being abused, as well as supporting women who are sharing. It presents an opportunity to unify so that we are all being heard and taking positive action to support each other’s equal human rights.
One clear message is to stay focused on those being held to account. When a perpetrator comes under the spotlight, there is a tendency to turn our attention towards the victims/survivors – who they were, and understanding what happened. The #MeToo hashtag has seen overwhelming support of women who felt able to share their experiences of sexism, harassment and sexual assault.
But because of this, the pendulum can swing away from the perpetrators and on to the victims. This can happen negatively, with some judging women as if they were somehow to blame. Of course, that’s not true.
Here are some statistics you might already know:
Trigger warning ⚠️ Information about sexual assault:
• Approximately 88,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales every year. This is increasing ( ^ 19% on the previous year).
• That works out at about 11 rapes (of adults) every hour (or roughly every six minutes).
• The majority of women are raped by someone they know. Many in their own home. And on a regular basis by their partner.
• Rape is not about sexual gratification. It’s about control and humiliation.
• Only 15% of women who are raped will report it to police. Much of this is most likely due to society’s view that she somehow brought it on herself.
• A person who has been raped is NOT to blame. Ever. If we spoke to rapists the way we speak to women about “rape prevention” it would look like the (deliberately ironic) list of suggestions in the image below. What a woman wears or how much she has had to drink, is not an invitation to rape.
Harvey Weinstein won’t always be in the news. But as long as information about sexual assault and harassment is currently in the spotlight, it’s important we keep our energy focused on the perpetrators taking responsibility for their actions, and on supporting the victims/survivors.
It’s also essential that we support any decision for victims to come forward, whilst respecting those who feel they can’t at this time.
If you or someone you know has been affected, you can search Sexual Assault Referral Centre to receive free and confidential information or contact agencies like Victim Support and Refuge. You don’t have to have reported it to the police to make contact with these services.
Keep the conversation going.
Copyright Delphi Ellis