It's Never Too Late To Speak Up

It's Never Too Late To Speak Up

Encourage bravery—don't shame it.

As our society evolves from a historical past of silencing voices, it seems as if people have finally acquired the bravery to speak up now more than ever.

With exposure at our fingertips through social media and the internet, it also seems as if it’s more difficult than ever to put yourself out there. I mean how can you when the whole world is always watching?

This especially applies to cases of sexual assault. Who wants to expose themselves and tell the world about a traumatizing experience that’s been silenced for so long? Something that will be judged, speculated and may even turn people against them. Who wants to be known as the girl that got sexually assaulted—or better yet—the girl that got raped? Nobody wants to view their life that way.

And since that topic is so prevalent now. Let’s take a close look at the recent domino effect of famous men getting taken down one-by-one.

Ever since allegations of producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced just last month, we’ve seen a sickening amount of big names come under fire as multiple women finally spoke up about their past experiences.

Louis C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct by five women, Steven Seagal accused of sexually harassing actress Portia de Rossi and others, Kevin Spacey accused of sexually assaulting an underage boy, former Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick accused of raping a girl three years ago—and that’s just a few of them. Unfortunately, there’s a long list of more.

Something all of these cases have in common is that it wasn't their only act of sexual misconduct. More people exposed similar situations by each man once the first claim circulated. Coincidence? Probably not.

Someone asked, “Why are so many women just now telling people about this when it happened so long ago?”

Clearly people with these types of questions don’t understand how trauma affects people. So, let’s put it into perspective.

According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Heath, “The study revealed that only 18% of the adult women's rapes and only 11% of the assaults of children were reported.”

It’s a bit clearer why children would internalize a traumatic sexual experience—they’re scared, confused, too young to understand—whereas an adult is more aware—but is that supposed to make it any easier? With a head of fully-developed emotions and understanding of the world, even as adults, we still feel like children when faced with trauma.

So of course, a victim’s first instinct is to be scared. They retreat to isolation because it’s all they know how to do in a moment of fear and disillusion.

Scientifically, sexual trauma has a particular kind of effect on the brain.

The Cognitive Neuroscience Society published a study about the complex neuroscience of sexual trauma and how drastically it affects the victim.

“The rate of false report in sexual violence is actually low, estimated by most studies to be around 7% (to compare, this is considerably lower than the rate of insurance fraud)."

The study further reported how even a simple altercation or uncomfortable moment can trigger a wave of distress. It not only disrupts emotional well-being, it creates a “cascade of hormonal changes, which includes oxytocin and opiates, associated with pain management, adrenaline, commonly associated with “fight or flight,” and cortisol."

"Functional connectivity between different areas of the brain is affected.”

So, as we all know the old adage, “time heals all wounds,” that just may be what helps these victims finally come to peace with their fears. Another is when someone else with the same experience speaks up first—finally the victim can fill the void of loneliness they’ve felt their entire repression. Finally, someone else who gets it.

As humans, we should be encouraging this type of unity and bravery for a victim. Help each other stand up for justice. Why as humans do we blame the victim? Why do we defend a man just because he’s our favorite actor or we thought he was a good person?

Especially women—shouldn’t we encourage them to speak up when their voices have been silenced for so long?

It's never too late to speak up. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is free, confidential and 24/7: 800-656-HOPE

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Removing Toxic People From Your Life

You do not, and I repeat, do not, owe others an explanation for doing something for the betterment of your own well being.

Unfortunately, toxic people are always going to be present and coming into your life. There are many ways to deal with them and they can be represented by several characteristics. However, it is your personal choice when deciding what to do with them. Do you let them stay in your life and keep taking more than they give? Or, do you cut them out of your life?

Toxic people look just like any other person on the outside, but they are usually narcissistic and overbearing on the inside. They can appear to be friends, family, peers or even college roommates. Toxic people are typically greedy and manipulative. They make you think that they care about you when really, the fact is that they only care about themselves. They are not going to be there to congratulate you on your personal victories because inside they just want to see you fail to make themselves look better.

Toxic people never apologize for what they have done that was wrong, especially if it is something that hurt somebody else. Sometimes, they tell fibs about what happened and they are far from the truth. Finally, toxic people bring back irrelevant information to arguments and hold everything that you have ever said against you.

All of these characteristics are those of a toxic person or somebody that you hopefully do not want in your life. Now, the question remains, what do you do with them? My advice to you is to cut them out of your life and move on. Eventually, you realize when enough is enough with somebody and you cannot handle them mistreating you any longer.

Always remember that you are allowed to leave those who have hurt you. You are allowed to be selfish sometimes when it means taking care of yourself. You do not, and I repeat, do not, owe others an explanation for doing something for the betterment of your own well being. What some people have a hard time realizing is that it is okay to want to make yourself happy.

You should not have to quietly sit there and smile while other people are walking all over you. You are a human being, and you have a right to let someone know that they are hurting you and that they need to stop doing so. You are allowed to set boundaries when people are overstepping and making you feel uncomfortable.

Whether you take my advice or not, I am confident that you will make the right decision in regards to dealing with toxic individuals. However, just trust me when I say that once you can, and choose to recognize and erode the toxicity of these awful beings, you will see an array of positive changes in your life and overall well being.
Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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The National School Walkout Day Is Important Because Staying Silent Is Not The Best Option

We must make our voices known.

Protests are usually controversial. There's really no way around it; that's kinda the whole point of protests. But the National School Walkout Day is important because we, as students, no longer feel safe in our classrooms. With all the armed robberies happening in Eugene currently, I don't even feel safe walking around NEAR campus. Even walking alone on campus has become slightly terrifying.

But I don't enjoy living in fear. Maybe it's my resilient spirit, but living in fear is one of the things I hate. I chose to participate in the walkout for that specific reason. I should feel safe sitting in a classroom while trying to learn new material. I shouldn't have an added layer of FEAR to the classroom environment.

How are we supposed to learn when we're worried about being the next victim in a list of school shooting victims that is already way too long? Even though I didn't have class at the time of the walkout, participating in it still was extremely powerful for me. Seeing so many fellow students united in our fear and resilience is incredibly powerful.

Many people disagree with this walkout, and argue that walking out of our classes for seventeen minutes won't change anything. My problem with this mindset is that these kinds of people don't think ANYTHING can make a change. However, most of our actions have the potential to majorly affect more than we realize. Staying silent about this issue won't create any positive change, so why not protest and show the country and government how unhappy we are about this current situation? We must make our voices known.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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