If you have paid any attention to social media or the news on television you would have seen the whole up roar against Harvey Weinstein. Numerous women in Hollywood, both in the United States and in Great Britain, have accused him sexual harassment and sexual assault. (For more information, check out this recent article published online: http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/12/entertainment/harvey-weinstein-london-nyc-police-investigation/index.html). Many celebrities have come out about their experiences with Weinstein, whether they share their own assault and harassment story or simply sharing their support to those who were abused. In fact, social media websites have taken a step forward by blocking Rose McGowan’s Twitter page. Although she did violate Twitter’s terms for supposedly posting a private number on Twitter, she was one of the major components in voicing allegations against Weinstein because of her own terrible experience with him. (For more information on her Twitter ban, visit this article: http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/12/technology/rose-mcgowan-twitter-account/index.html).

I weighed in on Twitter about my thoughts on the situation…

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It seems like it takes a celebrity, or a group of them, to help spread awareness about issues plaguing our society. I’m not complaining, either. They can use their voice to speak for those who won’t necessarily be heard. Sure, things can be heard and dealt with as a community, but when we discuss nationwide issues, such as mental health or abuse against women, it’s hard to be heard when you’re a no one. And before you complain that celebrities have no right to argue about politics or other issues that plague America, remember that they’re Americans first, celebrities second.

Sexual abuse and harassment is not a new thing for women. We have coped with, hid from, and died from abuse and harassment dealt to us by men (and, sadly, I’m sure a small number of women). Raping women was used as a weapon of war, even up through the Vietnam War. And if you didn’t think Americans did that in the Vietnam War, you’re lying to yourself. Men have a history of abusing their wives for control, entertainment, or to rule by fear. In some parts of the world, young girls are married off to older men and are subjected to rape. It’s truly disheartening and disgusting learning the types of abuse women today still suffer through. It can stretch as far as certain religions that view a woman’s rape as an embarrassment to the girl’s family.

All in all, this is nothing new. There have been Weinsteins throughout history and even today who enjoy hurting women. What is great about our society, especially watching the movement rise up against Weinstein, is that women have a greater voice against their attackers… to an extent. Female celebrities and their supports have raised their voices against him, and I applaud those who spoke out against him and shared their story. However, sometimes that is not the case for every woman in the country.

There are supposed toe protections in place to protect women. If you rape someone, you’re supposed to be arrested. Depending on where you’re living, however, you may not see this kind of justice. It is general knowledge that some college campuses go out of their way to cover up rapes. Sometimes this is true, other times it is not. The college I graduated from in recent years suffered something similar when a former college student opened up about an assault from a campus officer. There is also the disgusting stereotype that a girl should dress appropriately as to not distract the boys. If she was raped, she had to have been dressed provocatively or acted like she wanted it. This is where the part of society that truly believes this needs to step back and understand what they just said. A girl’s outfit is not her consent for sex. And no means no!

The problem with facing sexual assault or harassment in a small and/or poor community/area is that there simply may not be the funding available for supporting women after the fact. I recently learned about The Rape Foundation when it was posted on social media that Eva LaRue had attended an event there. I was intrigued enough to look up the foundation, and I was blown away with the types of programs they have. Of course, it is a California-based foundation, so their programs are only located there. They provide a lot of support for rape victims, while also providing treatment, prevention, and education. (For more information, visit their website: http://therapefoundation.org/). I was amazed at the programs they provided, but I was saddened that there are so many women and children who suffer without programs such as the ones The Rape Foundation Provide.

When I was 12, my mother was in the hospital after suffering a mini-stroke. She was in the hospital for two weeks. Me, my brother, and my uncle stayed at home while my biological sperm donor stayed with us. He never got his license, so we would walk to and from the hospital to visit my mom. My brother was young, which meant halfway home I would have to carry him because he would get tired. Despite that fact they were getting divorced and always fighting, we had to trust him enough to take care of us. During one of those nights, he raped his own daughter. Until a couple of years ago, I had repressed the memory, but my mother had told me she only found out when he called at Thanksgiving later that year and came clean because his therapist told him to. Only then did I supposedly come clean…that part is still unclear for me. Anyways, Mom fought everyone to get him charged for what he did. To this day, he was never charged with anything. He had another baby girl only a couple of years ago, and he assaulted her as well and got away with it. I grew up in a small town. There were no programs to help kids or adults that had been abused in any way. There were child protection services, but they didn’t help. The cops wouldn’t arrest him, even when he threatened to kill Mom in front of me and my brother. I was never put into therapy to cope with what happened. Only a few years ago, when the memory came back, was I able to cope with what happened and come to terms with it.

My experience as a 12 year old is a similar experience to those women and children who are abused and assaulted, but don’t have any protection to save them.

I moved to Western Maryland when I was a junior in high school, which was about nine years ago. I moved further west in Maryland to a town in the mountains, where I would graduate from college. The county I live in now advocates for a variety of things. They are a community who tries to protect one another, especially so since the town I live in is a college town. Professors on campus are quick to stand up for the rights of their students when they heard abuse has been taking place. One professor brought my campus assault to the attention to the right people, finally getting me in contact with campus police. There is an organization called the Family Crisis and Resource Center that provides free therapy and support for those who have suffered abuse and assault. It provides a lot of services, but I’m sure organizations like that are overburdened because of lack of resources for a large group of people they have to service. I can’t say this is the case for FCRC, but I know that is the case for many organizations in small communities.

It is truly sad that there are people out there needing help and protection, but don’t have access to it. Laws that are supposed to protect women are slowly fading away or simply not being followed. Did you know about seven states allow a rapist to get custody of a child conceived through rape? Can you imagine having a pregnancy forced on you, and then having to share or lose custody of that child to the man who raped you? Getting raped is traumatic enough, but having a child and going through a custody battle is enough to traumatize someone for life.

The celebrities in Hollywood, by standing up to Weinstein, are bringing attention to this world-wide problem of men harassing and assaulting women…and even getting away with it. I read he is seeking help for sex addiction, but there is no, no excuse for assaulting or harassing women. If you don’t know the difference between what’s good and bad, then I suggest you seek therapy before you hurt someone, or maybe simply learn to be a descent human being.

Sometimes, men just don’t understand how women feel because they aren’t subjected to it. During my Women in Literature class in college, there were, I believe, three men in the class. One simply couldn’t understand why his female classmates felt the need to carry mace when they walked alone. He couldn’t understand why we have to be on constant guard. It is easy to take advantage of being apart of the male sex, where you don’t have to worry about (most of the time) being sexually assaulted on the streets, or being harassed in a job interview.

I hope the movement against Weinstein helps bring attention to those other women, who don’t have a voice, and their problems. I have lost the number of women I know who have suffered in this way, and that is just sad. I know society won’t change overnight, and people will act how they want to act, especially if they don’t fear getting caught and persecuted for their actions. I stand by my tweet… it’s time to start eradicating this plague. Sadly, I think for years to come it is here to stay. I have hope, however, that as young boys, and boys not yet born, grow up that they will understand what is right and wrong. Girls won’t have to get told not to show too much shoulder because it tempts their male peers.

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