34 different men.
More than 34 women.
According to the New York Times, since November 21 there have been 34 cases of sexual misconduct reported against various people in Hollywood following the original accusations towards Harvey Weinstein. Ranging from unwanted and uncomfortable comments all the way to rape cases, the accused include producers, agents, publicists, and actors. The victims include actresses, reporters, and average women.
But you probably already knew all the statistics about these cases.
Currently, survivors from all walks of life are coming forward. People from the music scene, government professions, and medical fields are facing sexual misconduct claims. Men and women everywhere are sharing their stories of sexual survivorship with the hashtag on social media #MeToo.
The news and all forms of media are having a field day with these current allegations. At the rate things seem to be going, it seems like these 34 accusations will not be the last.
However, with words flying, news coverage, and frenzy surrounding these cases, things often get lost in translation.
Sometimes, we need to take a step back. More than just the victims and the alleged abusers are involved in these situations.
Think about the abusers’ wives who have to go through this.
Think about the children who have to grow up with the sins of their parents weighing heavily on their shoulders.
Think about how many lives change when someone is accused.
We all must remember to use our words cautiously and support everyone involved in these situations. The families of both the victims and the abusers are thrown into an unwanted spotlight, and we must be respectful of them during this time.
On top of supporting everyone involved, as people with empathy, we must remember that there’s more to the stories. Men are not the only ones being accused, and women are not the only ones being abused. Men and women can both be victims, and we must support both genders equally.
Cases will deviate from the stereotype. There will be situations outside of what we know and understand; no two cases will look alike. No matter how hard it is for one to understand the stories, we must choose to believe victims. Don’t be an abuse apologist.
These abusers have been idolized for years. It is easy to dismiss victims; however, we all must make sure the victims know they are heard. Yes, false claims do exist. But, according to The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, only two to ten percent of sexual assault claims are falsely reported. If — and that is a big if — any of the victims coming forward have falsely reported their assault, their justice will come. Those who have falsely reported violence will have their time in the spotlight and under pressure. However, right now the focus must be on the victims. We must believe the brave souls who have come forward with their stories. After all, it is believed that only 37 percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police (NSVRC).
We must get new points of view on the perpetrators. We must choose to believe the victims that have come forward, no matter how hard it is to ditch the preconceived notions we had of the offenders.
In this time of support, we must choose to love each other.
We need to choose support.
We need to choose empathy.
We need to choose justice for all.