Sheila Copps, Oprah Winfrey, Rufus Wainwright, Fran Drescher, Terri Hatcher and Meredith Viera are just some of the names of high-profile individuals who have admitted to being victims of sexual abuse or rape. Add to them to the list of victims speaking out against Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi who are only two of the high-profile names of perpetrators. Sexual abuse of both genders has been rampant since the beginning of time. But victims now have an ally—social media. One up-side of the recent exposure of these crimes is the emerging of a strong message that “we’re not going to take it anymore”. The stigmas of shame, embarrassment, anger and helplessness are being replaced by indignation, empathy and a call for justice.
Not that long ago driving while impaired was not a big deal. After downing a few brewskies at the local bar or party, drivers got behind the wheels of their vehicles and if they were successful in getting home without killing themselves or someone else, they patted themselves on the back for getting away with it. Things are very different today. Everyone knows the high price paid by victims of driving under the influence. Public service awareness campaigns and a change in attitudes have resulted in a reduction of DUI and designated drivers or cabs are commonly engaged in getting drinkers home safely.
It is my strong hope that the current attention focused on the incidence of sexual assault will develop into a stronger movement to address attitudes toward victims and to ultimately cause perpetrators to step back and consider the consequences of their actions. Most of the women I know have been abused at some time in their lives or know someone close to them who has been abused. We’re talking about it more openly now and gathering strength through those who have come forward. Victims deserve a voice. Children are particularly vulnerable and tragically remain silent when threatened or bribed by the person who abuses them physically or sexually.
I commend those who are now speaking up and let’s hope this groundswell gains enough strength to make this despicable crime even more abhorrent than driving under the influence. The bad guys know who they are and perhaps collectively we can influence them to realize they are not going to get away with it. That would be a legacy worth fighting for. Let’s not drop the ball.