Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted . To put this into context, consider the fact that the average adult takes roughly one minute to read about 250 words. In the time it takes you to read this article, two people will experience some form of sexual assault. In Los Angeles alone, the rate of reported rapes increased from 2015-2016 to nearly double that of the national average. As a result, Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys are needed now more than ever.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault occurs on a spectrum: it ranges from street harassment or ‘catcalling’, all the way to rape and even murder. According to the Department of Justice, sexual assault is defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Thus consent becomes the salient point of any debate surrounding sexual assault. Raising awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual assault at home and in every country around the world can only be accomplished if issues surrounding consent are tackled simultaneously.
The two people who will be sexually assaulted while you read this article could be from completely different backgrounds. They could both be children – every eight minutes a child experiences some form of sexual violence. They could be male college students – male students are five times more likely than their working counterparts to experience sexual assault. Most likely, however, they will be women – since 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women have been victims of rape or attempted rape.
Over the past few years, many celebrities and organizations have tried to raise awareness about sexual assault and harassment, particularly on college campuses. Yet none have been quite as impactful as the recent #MeToo phenomenon that took social media by storm during the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal. Although Tarana Burke launched the Me Too campaign 10 years ago, actress Alyssa Milano recently prompted everyday social media users to use the hashtag in an attempt to emphasize just how many people are affected by sexual assault. Responses poured in as millions of people across different social media platforms came together to highlight the pervasiveness of sexual harassment.
The greatest impact of the #MeToo campaign is not the celebrity endorsement or support from large groups; rather, it is the involvement of everyday survivors that lends the movement strength. Anyone can experience sexual violence, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or celebrity status. While certain groups are more at risk of experiencing sexual harassment (students on college campuses, for example), any attempt at highlighting the important of raising awareness about sexual assault should not ignore the lived experiences of one particular group of people.
The Silence Breakers
Coming forward and accusing someone of sexual assault is both traumatic and incredibly difficult. Victim blaming is a prevalent part of our society, where survivors are often asked what they were wearing, or if they tried to fight back. The fear and shame that surrounded coming forward and telling a story of sexual violence and harassment created a vacuum of silence that has only just been filled with the voices of survivors. In an attempt to honor those who have had the courage to tell their stories, Time magazine appointed The Silence Breakers as their 2017 person of the year. Simply put, the Silence Breakers are ordinary individuals who have had enough with the current narrative surrounding sexual violence, and wish to raise awareness about sexual assault by telling their stories.
The Silence Breakers are not victims, they are survivors. Survivors of sexual assault are everywhere and can be anyone. If you are a survivor and need legal defense or advice, do not hesitate to contact us. We hear you, we believe you, and we want to help.