As the “Me Too” movement continues to bring down some of Hollywood’s biggest Producers, Directors, Actors and Comedians, response to these revelations tends to fall into two camps. Overall – at least publicly – there is great support for the victims, which is very good. We finally see Companies, Networks and the public taking action to show these behaviors will no longer be tolerated. Responses long over due (and one can only hope that intolerance for sexual abuse of power will finally turn to politics as well, and not just on a hit and miss level). My concern is the responses I’ve heard behind closed doors.
Statements like: “If it was true why did they wait so long to tell?”, “She’s just after money”, “If that happened to me I would have immediately gone to the police!” and so on. Well I am a member of the “Me Too” wave. My perpetrators (yes plural) were not powerful Hollywood men but I’ve heard similar cynical remarks before. I want to say that until sexual assault and rape happens to you, you have no idea how you will respond. Often you are in shock, denial, you start to question yourself, “did I cause this?” “Why did he (or she) do this?” “What if no one believes me?”. Sometimes your first response is to try and forget what happened, and the last thing you want to do is deal with the abuser again. It can be even more overwhelming if you are a child or young adult. Even typically confident adult women and men, can be thrown off kilter in such circumstances and not report an assault. Some will confide in a close friend or family member, others won’t, at least not at first. And yes, some will be able to immediately call the police, and good for them, but statistics show they are in the minority. Many victims never report it. One can only hope that as society turns to become more supportive of victims and demanding of justice, reporting will increase.
Will there be some who were not victimized who try to take advantage of the “Me Too” movement for financial gain? a few perhaps. There are rare cases when false rape claims are made to police, but that is the minority not the rule. Plus, considering how the legal system is skewed against the victim of sexual assault and in favor of the perpetrator, I hope you bear in mind that an innocent verdict does not always mean a rape didn’t happen. I just would like those who have skepticism to give those speaking up the benefit of the doubt and remember that until you find yourself in that position, you really don’t know how you would respond.