Sexual assault: strength in numbers

Mary Mahan, Staff Writer

Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

It’s hard to get on any type of media today and not hear reports of some type of sexual assault or harassment incident, whether it be a small state/county case, or a celebrity finally speaking up about an event from their past. Because these sexual assault and harassment cases are continually being brought to light, society has become numb to how big of an issue it is. The first step to coming out of this numb state is educating oneself on exactly what sexual assault and harassment are and what all these cases in the media are really about.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment seemed to be used interchangeably in casual discussion and in the media, but they are two different things.

Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. It’s essentially a term that describes activities like the following: rape, unwanted sexual contact, like touching and grabbing, unwelcome exposure of another’s body, sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse. Sexual assaults are the more serious cases.

Sexual harassment is considered a lesser crime than sexual assault, but should still be taken just as seriously. Sexual harassments are things like unwanted written and verbal jokes, suggestive comments, and even minor touching and grabbing. These things can seem to be innocent but can degrade into something worse quickly.

Recently in the media, actresses and actors have been speaking up about instances from both their childhood and present day lives. North Greenville’s Title IX Coordinator, Robin McCarter, said that when it comes to these cases, “you are going to see a mix of both the simpler harassment and assault cases in Hollywood stars.”

 The biggest name in sexual harassment related news has been Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. Ashley Judd was the first to speak up about unwanted touch and exposure, which led to 26 other women speaking up about their own allegations toward Weinstein, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. Weinstein isn’t the only higher up being accused of sexual assault and harassment, many other men are being brought forth to be judged.

Because of so many cases beginning to appear, the Los Angeles District Attorney is forming a task force of attorneys to specifically handle sexual abuse cases. Celebrities have the funds to pay pricey lawyers to aid them in an assault case, but most people can’t afford attorneys with specific causes. By having this task force of attorneys, people will have a better chance of getting justice in their cases, then if they were to have a randomized court-appointed general attorney.

Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

Most victims of sexual abuse are afraid of retaliation, or in the case of actresses, afraid of losing their careers, so they don’t speak up about their experience right away, or at all. Just like how many other women spoke up against Weinstein after Judd, most women feel encouraged to speak up once someone else does. McCarter said, “Once you do have someone that comes forward, it opens a door, and kind of empowers somebody else to say ‘if they can do it, so can I’.” People around the world have begun to use the hashtag #MeToo to signify that, they too have been assaulted and/or harassed, to help encourage others with the fact that they are not alone. 

North Greenville students, for more information please refer to your Title IX pamphlets. If you have questions, have something to report, or need help after an assault please refer to these contacts below (not an NGU student: Refer to medical contacts at the bottom of the page):

  • Robin McCarter: Title IX Coordinator
  • Sarah Black: University Counselor
    • 864-977-2024
  • Steve Bielby: University counselor
    • 864-977-1249
  • Campus Security: Immediate Response
    • 864-977-7777

If you have been a victim of a rape or other physical sexual assault, call security or the police right away and seek medical attention. Do not take a shower, and if at all possible put clothes into a brown paper bag.

Medical Attention Contacts:

Be the one to speak up for yourself and others.