We are at a critical time in the fight for gender equality across a multitude of issues, including the ones we are combating at Streetwise Self Defense. We believe that while society should speak out against accused sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein, James Toback – also in the entertainment industry, Chris Savino at Nickelodeon, Celebrity Chef John Besh, and Mark Halperin while at ABC News, we can not going to rely on that to keep women safe from sexual harassment, manipulation, and a wide range of abuses right up to and including rape.
Statistics tell us that the vast majority (nearly 7 out of 10) of rapes are committed by someone who is known to the victim (RAINN Statistics: See citation 1 below). They could be someone that the woman is forced to, or feels as though she is forced to, work with as in the case of Weinstein. But they also might be someone you see on a regular basis at the grocery store, at the bus stop, at the gym, perhaps a friend of the family, or even a family member. In the case of sexual abuse against juveniles, 93% knew their abuser (RAINN Statistics: See citation 2 below).
In order for change to occur though, we need to stand up to that behavior individually and as a group, so that it cannot continue to persist in the shadows, and we need to learn to fight back. In doing so, we will reinforce the message that this is indeed a crime, and that it is safe for survivors to come forward to tell their story, and report these crimes.
As a note, I use the terms Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Rape, Stalking, and Abduction/Kidnapping as an inclusive way of describing a wide range of sexually oriented crimes committed against male and female children, a relatively smaller group of young adult and adult men, and a much larger group of young adult and adult women of all ages. These crimes range from endangerment to assault/battery, to rape, to forced abduction and imprisonment.
The motivations behind these crimes vary, and while I agree that rape against adults most often is driven by anger and a desire to control and humiliate the victim for whatever reason, I believe that sexual crimes against children are often motivated by deviant sexual desire.
I believe we as a society can best reduce the number of victimizations by continuing to encourage and support the survivors who are stepping forward to tell their stories, and by developing are own awareness of the indicators sexual harassment, our attitudes about not tolerating that behavior against ourselves or our friends/colleagues, as well as developing our preparation to fight back, physically and emotionally.
1 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2014 (2015).
2 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement (2000).