We’ve seen it. We’ve seen the hashtag that is going around on social media about sexual assault or sexual harassment.

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

It’s been very disheartening to see how many of my friends have been affected by another person abusing them. And typically, it’s perpetrated by a man who is in a position of power.

When we talk about it, or it’s mentioned in the news, it is usually phrased as though a woman has been a victim of sexual assault. Like the assault just happened to her. Not that a man perpetrated the assault. Why are we not putting the blame where it belongs?

And one thing that I can’t seem to understand is that a lot of women are blaming other women to whom this has happened. WHAT?! How can you say it’s because she was dressed like a hoochie? I’m sorry, it is not her clothing’s fault that she was raped. The alcoholic drink is not at fault. Putting the blame on the victim is not helping. It’s basically saying,

I’m sorry you were too drunk to fight off that frat boy, but you know how they are. Boys will be boys.

Fuck that. If a man can’t keep his hands and other body parts to himself, he deserves to rot in prison – or worse, in my opinion. He definitely deserves to lose his scholarships, his sponsors and endorsement deals, his job, his freedom, and most certainly, not be elected to office. There should be a higher level of accountability and longer sentences, if they receive any at all. Most times, men aren’t even arrested or taken to court.

And why is it that these men assault other people? It’s because they feed off the power they hold over another human being. These men are usually in positions of power and use that to make another person feel like they have to oblige, or else. Typically, they’re assaulting women, but it absolutely happens to boys, girls, and other men.

In recent years, I have come to understand a lot about abusive relationships. More than I would like. They happen when one person decides they are more powerful, more important. And they can be the most charming people, but underneath all of that faux charm is a sinister need. There may be people in their lives that cover for them, that try to keep what they’re doing quiet. And I believe those folks are just as guilty as the actual perpetrator. I think those people should be held accountable, too.

I have my own experiences, and while I won’t go into detail here, I may talk some day. Suffice to say, more people than I imagined have posted their #metoo.

I don’t have time to pussyfoot around this subject. I loathe the people who camouflage as much as the person who actually commits the crime. I know the Bible says to forgive and forget, but I have such a hard time with this.

The court of public opinion is more likely than not to not believe us when we come forward. Anita Hill, who for many in my generation is the first woman we remember stepping forward with allegations of sexual harassment, was no stranger to her credibility being questioned. Clarence Thomas’s supporters raked her over the coals as what can only be described as character assassination, despite the fact that she had several witnesses to her claims.

But what happened after Anita Hill came forward is where we owe her a debt. Her testifying (before an all-male Senate committee, no less) about Justice Thomas opened the doors for laws to be passed that allow harassment victims the right to seek federal damage awards, back pay, and reinstatement. Because of her strength, private companies now train their employees to deter sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is lewd remarks being made at work, coworkers or customers getting “handsy”, unwanted sexual advances by anyone, requests for sexual favors. Basically, any interaction that creates a hostile work environment. If you’ve experienced this type of incident, please report it to your Human Resources personnel or contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

You may have also encountered “street harassment”. We’ve all seen the video of the woman who is catcalled over and over. This is when a person is followed, catcalled, groped, and any other unwelcomed or threatening behaviors in public settings. For these types of instances, please report them to the local police.

We can no longer allow the Weinsteins, Thomases, Clintons, Trumps, Cosbys, Ailes, O’Reillys, Afflecks, Weiners, Tysons, and Polanskis, of the world to continue hurting women (and men) alike. It seems like we are on our own, ladies. Not many men are willing to step forward with us and agree to end this nonsense. I suppose “locker room talk” will continue as long as we, as a society, allow men to grab us “by the pussy”.

This problem will not be fixed tomorrow or the next day. But we can continue to tell our stories so that other women will know they are not alone. We are stronger together. We will stand up and say, “No more!”

If you need assistance, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673.

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