Now That the Frenzy Has Died Down, What’s Next for Survivors?
Now that the media coverage of sexual harassment has died down, what has changed? It was trending for a few weeks, but It’s no longer hot news. Will it fade into nothingness with no impact, or has society awakened to the plight and fight of victims of sex crimes? I am very thankful for all the one survivors that decide silence is not an option and speak up. We never know what spark will set off an explosion. I say thank you to all the sparks in our communities whether you set off an explosion or not.
Is there more public empathy to the struggles of survivors or has the public become numb to the seriousness of sexual harassment, sexual assaults because of all the attention? I hope there is more empathy to the challenges of survivors. Most victims of sexual harassment, and survivors of sexual assault that joined the #ME TOO explosion or spoke up in other ways have never spoken up before. They don’t what’s on the other side of speaking up. What’s on the other side are the same things that were there before sexual harassment accusations became trendy. You have those that are for you, against and most are in-between. Hopefully, the media awakened the public to the plight and fight of survivors and caused some to do their own research. Hopefully, people will finally believe survivors. Only 2-3% of accusations are false. That is the same percentage as all other crime accusations.
What happens when victims speak up? Speaking up is freeing, empowering and it releases the truth. You gain a sense of strength, confidence, power, and control. When I spoke up there was a new fight in me not to suppress what happened to me. It was no longer a fight to keep it pushed down and hidden so I could continue my life. This was a new fight to get it up and out of me, so I could continue life, free and empowered. It was good for me to speak up after the last assault in 2008. It changed my life. However, to tell the truth, I was silent for years about the multiple assaults I incurred. Silent because I would be blamed, judged and really nobody cared. Speaking up this last time was better, no matter what challenges I went through because I spoke up. If someone can understand both sides of the equation I do. You know the truth. You speak the truth. No one can take that away.
Speaking up, you learn who your real friends are, and you will be surprised. Quickly you learn who is a safe place you, a place where you are comfortable sharing. You become careful and discerning. Some friends will cry because of what happened to you. They will hurt because you hurt and want to help you. Some will be empathetic. They will understand and have compassion for you. Other friends and family will be polite. They may not understand but they will not judge you. They will ask questions. The last group of friends and family will be critical of you. They will not understand. They will blame you, judge you and may even defend the perpetrator. Just stand your ground against them and if necessary avoid conversations. Sometimes if you’re forced into a conversation, let them speak and say as little as possible. People are going to think what they want. Avoid stress.
How has this media attention affected the legal process? All the current attention to sexual assaults and harassments has not changed the legal process and will not. If you are pursuing justice, be prepared for a battle. Learn the system. Build yourself up mentally and emotionally to handle the process. Prepare yourself by journaling. Write everything you remember down, dates, times, places, conversation, etc. It may take more than a year to get a court date. Don’t be surprised if the date is postponed. That is normal. My date was postponed 3 times, the last because the defense attorney scheduled a trip overseas. You will get discouraged at times but be determined to go all the way through the process. You will be a stronger, more empowered person for it and you will help another victim(s). Not every attorney can successfully win an assault case. Survivors must do their research. You can’t be lazy. Stay in contact with your advocate and attorney. Don’t wait for them to call you. For my first court date, my sister flew 1700 miles to support me. The date was postponed, and I was never notified. My sister and I made the best of the trip. Another sister came for the actual court date and was a great support. Thank God for sisters who support sisters. If pursuing legal action, I encourage the survivor to find an attorney that specializes in sex crimes and that has a good track record.
Will people take advantage of this trend? Will survivors get the strength to expose the crime and fight for truth? Will people try to manipulate the system? When all the media attention is no more, will you be more empathetic and supportive of survivors? What will change and what will remain the same. We shall see.
Not all survivors are ready or able to speak up. Everyone’s situation is different. If you are a survivor that wants to speak up but can’t, let us be your voice. Let Silent Screams Inc. be your voice.
Carolyn J Hudson,
Silent Screams Inc.