The recent reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault by Hollywood film producer and co-founder of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is yet another scandal that exposes a culture that became a system of secrecy. This is not the first powerful figure or institution to face allegations of sexual violence and cover-up. However, truth revealed is progress! From actor Bill Cosby, to former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, to football coaches, to Olympic Team doctors, to teachers of the Word of God, all of these men have one thing in common – power.
Sexual violence is not about sex. It is all about power and control. Sexual violence is about a perpetrator asserting their power and dominance over a victim. When a Hollywood mogul like Harvey Weinstein uses his power to sexually violate a victim, he is establishing his dominance. As most perpetrators know, this often leaves their victims feeling powerless. In Weinstein’s case, he held many of his victims’ careers in the palm of his hand. He had the power to make or break their professional futures.
Two words, “Me Too”, are raising awareness about just how prevalent sexual violence really is. The #MeToo Movement, started years ago by activist Tarana Burke, has recently hit major headlines after high profile Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the hashtag #MeToo and asked others to join her in sharing their experiences in an effort to demonstrate the magnitude of sexual violence. With the recent use of the hashtag #MeToo, survivors across the globe are coming forward and speaking their truths. Milano’s goal is to shift the power from perpetrators by giving voice to victims. Thousands of men and women have participated in taking back a piece of the power that was taken from them.
For most survivors, publically disclosing their sexual assaults takes all of the shame and vulnerability that survivors often carry, and puts it right into the spotlight for all to see. While some survivors may feel empowered in sharing their stories and lightening their load, others may be fearful. Fearful that they won’t be believed or fearful they may be blamed for what happened to them. Others are simply not ready to share their stories. The headlines may trigger some survivors, unearthing secrets they’ve kept hidden their entire lives. Every survivor is different, and healing looks different for everyone. There’s power in sharing a story, and there’s power in honoring what is right for you. That power, is in the hands of the survivor. We stand with survivors, and we honor that power.