The founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, recently spoke at Michigan State University. MSU has been in the news recently because of Larry Nassar, the USA gymnastics doctor who was sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing gymnasts he pretended to treat. Nassar worked for MSU.
Prison is a place to house those found guilty of a crime, not a place for crimes to be committed. However, sexual assault is an all too familiar part of prison life, especially for incarcerated women. As awareness of sexual assault increases, it’s worth noting that it affects all arenas of life.
Sexual assault has long been an issue in the U.S. military. While the military has taken steps to reduce sexual assault against those in service, it has been reluctant to pursue cases of sexual assault involving youth, according to investigative reporting by the Associated Press.
Most people by now have heard of Larry Nassar's horrific sexual assaults on young gymnasts in his care. The former USA Gymnastics doctor was recently convicted of multiple criminal charges and will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Sexual assault against the intellectually disabled remains an often-ignored problem. Unfortunately, the issues facing abuse victims with cognitive impairments can be significant. Much like with other vulnerable populations such as young children and the elderly, sexual predators rely on special needs victims being unable to communicate clearly. Even if they can communicate, the victim's plight is often ignored as unreliable. For these reasons, it is very difficult for prosecutors to get convictions against perpetrators for their crimes.
For all of the strides of the #MeToo movement -- and the bravery sexual abuse and harassment victims continue to demonstrate by speaking out -- it is still difficult to talk with kids about sexual abuse. It can seem inappropriate or unnecessary. The topic is difficult to bring up. No parent wants to admit the possibility that their kids may be subjected to such horrors.
A confidentiality agreement prevented McKayla Maroney, a U.S. Olympic Medal winner, from speaking out about sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar, a USA Gymnastics doctor. The agreement, signed between USA Gymnastics and McKayla Maroney, was worth a reported $1.25 million. Revelations about the confidentiality agreement has led to a renewed discussion of when, if ever, a settlement for sexual abuse should include a nondisclosure provision.
We all have an obligation to protect children in our care. For some religious organizations, unfortunately, there has been a history of protecting reputations over kids. Institutional leaders in the Jehovah’s Witnesses in both the U.S. and U.K. are the latest to be accused of covering up child sex abuse.
“They were asking for it” is perhaps the oldest and most despicable form of victim-blaming that occurs in sexual assault cases. However, perpetrators of sexual assault and institutions responsible for keeping young people safe continue to resort to this obvious falsehood in an attempt to shift blame.
In the wake of revelations of the outrageous behavior of Harvey Weinstein, who is alleged to have sexually harassed actresses for decades, many people in Hollywood have taken to speaking out against sexual harassment and sexual assault. In short time, the #MeToo campaign has gained significant momentum and attention. Women who have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault are bravely sharing their experiences in an attempt to raise awareness about the extent of the problem.