Sexual assault moves to forefront of today’s culture

Lauren Young, Reporter

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In the U.S., someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network). Some think our society is normalizing sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. All over media, there is disrespect towards women and almost every person you ask says they have felt uncomfortable with another´s sexual comments at one time or another.

In the Media

Recently, Twitter has been blowing up with tweets about Melanie Martinez, a popular singer who has been accused of raping her best friend, Timothy Heller. Martinez, 2012 winner of “The Voice,” has denied all allegations and details of the alleged incident, including place and consent, are unclear, according to an article on cnn.com.

It was reported on several media outlets that President Donald Trump has sexually harassed women multiple times. On the popular show, Megyn Kelly Today they showed a video of testimonials from 16 women who claimed that Trump sexually harassed them.

This is a worldwide problem, and it doesn’t just affect women. Many people fail to acknowledge that men are also sexually assaulted. One out of every 33 men in America have reported being raped or having someone attempt to rape them. Women are 90 percent more likely to be raped than men (rainn.org).

The Movement

The #MeToo movement, founded in 2006, gained momentum this school year as more cases of sexual harassment appeared in the media. Founder Tarana Burke created this movement as a way for survivors to feel empowered to speak out about sexual violence hoping to “de-stigmatize survivors and promote healing” (metoo.org). The “Silence Breakers,” those who spoke out, were named TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” this year. To become part of this movement, survivors can share their experience on social media and include “#MeToo.”   

In School

In many schools across America, students between the grades 8-12 experience sexual harassment all too often. Many students have also been faced with some kind of sexual harassment at some time, 83 percent of female and 79 percent of male students (nwlc.org). Schools should be a safe learning environment, which isn’t the case when you are unable to focus because you are too worried about being sexually harassed.

MHS senior Josephine Nicols recently spoken out on social media about a case of sexual harassment. Nicols received unwanted sexual comments during school. “Each time I passed this group of guys, they would cat-call me, commenting on my body, and eventually, asking me to sleep with them. I felt anxious. I wanted to just ignore it. I was in shock. I felt disrespected. No one should ever be disrespected like that. I felt like an object.”

Junior Luke Anteau notices that girls talk about sexual assaults and their experiences more than guys. He thinks this is because it makes guys feel less masculine to talk about it.

“I think that guys experience sexual comments and harassment less than girls, but it definitely still happens. Part of the reason I think it is more common to hear about female experiences is because it’s more embarrassing for the guys,” said Anteau.

History teacher Kevin Morris is repulsed by sexual harassment. “No one should be treated like that. You should respect everyone who you encounter in life. It’s just wrong and so disrespectful,” said Morris.

Math teacher Amy Bonam said she does not notice sexual harassment, however she notices a different problem.

“I don´t think I´ve ever noticed sexual harassment in my classroom, but I do see a lot of gender roles. Whenever we are moving around, the boys expect to move everything heavy while the girls stay out of the way. A couple times, I found male students making comments about how it isn’t fair to let (girls) go to the bathroom because they will be fixing their hair or makeup,” Bonam said.

Math teacher Kaitlynn Arnholt notices sexual harassment in a different way. “I occasionally see sexual harassment in the form of joking around. Whenever I notice it, the victim always sticks up for themselves, and I will make sure they apologize,” Arnholt said.

People who have experienced sexual harassment can struggle coming out about their trauma due to the emotions it can cause. Victims often report feeling guilty, feeling like they did something to deserve the treatment they have received; this can lead to denying that the situation happened or making it seem like it was not as big of deal as it was. When a tragic event happens, it can ruin how one feels about oneself; when others do not respect a person’s body, it can make it a challenge for the victim to respect and love his/her own self.

Advice

If you are faced with sexual harassment, there are places you can go for help. RAINN has a National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) as well as a website.

In Monroe, victims can visit the Family Counseling Shelter Services on LaPlaisance Road. Its mission is “To provide programs and services essential to an individual’s emotional well-being and the success of our community, as well as the protection and empowerment of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.” They can be reached at (734) 242-7233 (fcssmc.org).

At MHS, if a student feels he/she has been assaulted, the student should report it to the counseling center, administration or a teacher.

With awareness, hopefully, we can stop normalizing sexual assaults. Whether it is verbal or physical, it is not okay.

 

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Sexual assault moves to forefront of today’s culture