It has been two weeks since the second Presidential Debate. However, news of Donald Trump and his supposed “locker room talk” continues to circulate the internet and find its way into everyday discussion.
Although the Hollywood Access tape of Trump going on about kissing and touching women without consent is about 10 years old, it’s relevance holds strong and has caused a lot of stress around the topic of sexual assault.
What makes matters worse is that when Trump was confronted about the allegations that he had supposedly sexually assaulted women in the past, he flat out lied – on stage and in the public eye of millions of viewers.
So much has been done over the past few years to get out awareness for sexual assault and shed light on the fact that it’s not some taboo issue that rarely happens. The truth is that it’s more common than it should be and I don’t think Trump’s denial and lighthearted brush-off of the situation is going to help anyone in the months and years to come.
According to sexassult.ca, out of every 100 sexual assaults that occur in Canada, only six are reported to the police, and for every three women in Canada, one will be a victim of assault in their lifetime.
We live in a society where those statistics are far too high and maybe they would be different if everyone were able to treat each other with respect.
Victims are considered liars until evidence is found that states otherwise, while the criminals are seen as innocent until proven guilty. It’s the same with any crime, but this fact often leads people to recoil from the idea of reporting their attackers. If they can’t find justice, they just end up looking like a fool.
The last few years have been so influential in trying to support those who have found themselves in these horrible situations. Since 2014, two documentaries have been made regarding the issue about sexual violence on American college and university campuses, alone. It Happened Here (2014) and The Hunting Ground (2015) both express that they use real testimonies from victims and try to gain more traction in the quest for awareness. The Hunting Ground was even shortlisted for a nomination for Best Documentary Feature at last year’s Oscars while the song “Till It Happens to You” written and produced by Lady Gaga for the film won both a Grammy and an Oscar in the best song categories.
Over the years, more and more celebrities – including Lady Gaga, Tyler Perry and Madonna – have come public with their own stories of sexual violence, while dozens more advocate for and support their fight. At the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict held in 2014, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie stated, “We must send a message across the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence – the shame is on the aggressor.”
Too much blame is pushed onto the victim when it is not their burden to bear. So many people throw around statements about the way girls dress or act in public; the apparent fact being that they are looking to get themselves into trouble when they go out and drink. This couldn’t be more untrue.
Any form of sexual behaviour or contact without the consent of those involved is considered sexual assault and rape. So, if someone is too drunk to the point where they are unconscious and unable to consent, that would be an automatic “no” to any sexual touching or activity. The same goes for the idea of seeing a girl walking home in a short dress and taking that as an invitation to harass her. No means no, and the definition hasn’t changed since you first learnt the word when you were in diapers.
So much fear of rejection and belittlement can be instilled in the mind of the victim and it can be painful and embarrassing to come forward with the truth of what has happened. We should be working toward a society where people are able to open up about their struggles instead of hiding them away and letting them fester inside.
Donald Trump and his ability to dismiss the feelings of the handful of women who came forward about their experiences with him is only pushing down the progress that people have been trying to make for years. If you or someone you love has ever been the victim of sexual violence, the best thing you can do is reach out for support, even if it’s just in a small way – you don’t need to be alone in the situation.
For a brief overview of consent, check out Blue Seat Studio’s’ video “Tea Consent” on YouTube.