Apparently "No" is Short for "Yes"

Emily Nestor, Lauren O’Connor, Lauren Madden, Louise Godbold, Dawn Dunning, Robert Cavazos, Tony Montana, Daniel Beal, Kayden Nguyen, Dana Min Goodman, Julia Wolov, Rebecca Corry, Kristina Cohen, and so many more. You may not recognize these women so let me give you names that you will know: Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Steven Seagal, Louis C. K., and Ed Westwick. All of these names are linked together. Either they are potential victims or assaulters. What makes the situation of the victims much more difficult is that not only do they have to live with the emotional pain of what they experienced, but they are now being judged and harassed and painted out as liars because they do not have the money and fame that their assaulters do.  There are still people turning their back to the victims because they like so and so because “he’s so funny”, or, “he’s so cute”, or he turned them on when they were 17 because he is most notable for saying, “I’m Chuck Bass.” Well guess what: it’s f**cking bullshit.

 

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Before we delve deeper I want you to know that I am writing this as a victim, as a woman, but most importantly as a human being.  Being a woman is not easy. You are always on edge, you are always waiting for the worst thing to happen. Comments are made, unsolicited dick pics are sent, you are touched or kissed or licked by people you don’t want touching, kissing, or licking you or during times that you don’t want to be acknowledged in that way. You say no, but they persist because you are a woman because they see you as less than them. They see you as powerless. They see you as someone just there for their own entertainment. They do not view what they are doing as wrong and even when they are called out for it, they deny it.

 

Last week Kristina Cohen braved the world by discussing her experience with Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick. This girl, with nothing to gain and everything to lose, was able to step forward and accuse Westwick of raping her. His response? Well, he took a page out of Mariah Carey’s book (who has also been accused of sexual harassment in the last week) and went with her standard “I don’t know her.” Over two hundred thousand people liked that post. 228,235 people liked that post - most of them being women. They liked the post to give support to the person who does not need it most. By liking that post they turned their back on Kristina. They sided with a man that has no regard for her as a human being. This is our culture. This is the world we live in. This is the world that we hope our children will never live in.

 

 

17,700,000. Let that number sink in. That is the estimated number of women that have been raped since 1998. The worst part? Because it does get worse, is that every 98 seconds in the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted. That means about 570 people experience sexual violence every single day. How many Facebook friends do you have? Personally, I have a little over 650 people on Facebook. I have one day's worth of victims on my “Friends” list. They aren’t strangers. They’re childhood friends, classmates, colleagues, family members. People that I legitimately care about and cheer for every single day. Statistically speaking, over half of my Facebook friends are victims of sexual violence and so are your’s.

 

So you’re thinking of your friends and family and you’re acknowledging that they are most likely victims of sexual violence to some degree. Now think of their assaulters. They could be strangers on the street, but they could also be people that were trusted. Significant others, close friends, family members/family friends. You would want justice for them, right? To see who hurt them be punished for their actions, right? We all want that, but sadly about 99% of the perpetrators continue to walk free and go about their daily lives without so much as a smack on the wrist. Where does that leave the victims? Well, first of all about 1 in every 6 women have survived an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime and about 13% of female victims will attempt suicide while 94% of female victims will experience symptoms of PTSD within two weeks of being raped.

 

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If you prefer, we can think about this in terms of dollars and cents. A survivor of sexual violence who was abused as a child will lose approximately $241,600 of their income over the course of their working lives. Rape victims will be forced to spend anywhere between $400-1,500 on a rape kit despite the fact that they should not have to pay for something they didn't want, but the law demands it. But the big one that should bother everyone, if nothing has bothered them this far, is that the United States has spent approximately $750 billion on sexual violence and abuse in 2008 alone. But I guess they were just asking for it.

 

My personal favorite is that people tend to not believe the victim because they think the victim is lying. Well, you can stop because only about 2-10% of rape accusations are false. On top of that, every 7 in 10 victims know their assaulter. People are most likely to be assaulted between the ages of 12 and 34, women between the ages of 16 and 19 in the general population are more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault. College women between the ages 18 and 24 are three times more likely than women of the general population to experience sexual violence.

 

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#MeToo became a viral hashtag in October of this year and was started by social activist, Tarana Burke and was popularized by Alyssa Milano who encouraged women all over to tweet it in an attempt to make experiences public as well as paint a bigger picture of our misogynistic society. It has been tweeted by millions of women just like me and you as well as by celebrities. The campaign began on MySpace in 2006 as a way to promote “empowerment through empathy” and that is exactly what it has done. It gave women the strength to come forward and acknowledge and talk about their experiences. It gave victims a chance to see just how un-alone they are. It provided support to men and women everywhere and it continues to do so. Reese Witherspoon spoke at Elle’s Women of Hollywood event in mid-October and she recounted on her own experience of being assaulted by a director when she was 16 saying, “I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault, and I don’t speak about them very often, but after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.” That is what the #MeToo movement has done for people - it has made them want to speak up and speak up loudly.

 

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It is hard enough to be a woman in this world, we do not need to make it harder for each other by turning against other women in an effort to support our celebrity crush or a friend. Everyone knows someone who has been raped, but most people don't know a rapist. The victim needs you more than their rapist does. We should be treating people like people and stop raping. So, in the midst of all this bullshit, all I have left to say is that I am here, I am angry, and Me Fucking Too.

 

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