First, it started with the sexual assaults on college campuses. The scandals were followed up with some news coverage, court settlements, maybe even a few perpetrators put in jail, and of course, the infamous "Hunting Ground" documentary highlighting the lack of regard that universities have toward rape and sexual assault on campuses.
Next, people with greater power than merely college students began reporting sexual harassment and assault in powerful workforces. Very recently, a spotlight has been placed on Hollywood agency executives, producers, and even talent. Producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., actor Kevin Spacey and filmmaker Brett Ratner are just a few to name. Hundreds of women are coming out of the woodwork to share their stories of sexual assault that may have happened even decades ago.
Women across the globe are joining together in solidarity to join the #MeToo movement on Facebook and Twitter. They publically reveal their encounters with sexual predators, but truthfully their victimizers will never be put behind bars or held accountable for their actions unless the highest institution in our society makes some changes.
It is our government – the people we elect to be this nation’s lawmakers and voices of the public – who have ultimately violated us. On Thursday, the Office of Compliance revealed that between 1997 to 2017, over $17 million in settlements have been paid out to victims of discrimination by government officials, including many sexual harassment violations. The 268 settlements that comprise this large sum of money do not even come close to the number of victims of sexual assault by government officials that exist. Approximately 80 percent of those who have come forward with sexual misconduct stories have chosen against reporting the encounters with the Office of Compliance, therefore the majority of injustices that government officials have committed will remain in the dark.
The truth that female government employees are coming forward and making allegations against senators, congressmen and even presidents is scary.
The fact that a government official has paid more than $17 million over a 20 year period to keep these allegations hidden is even scarier.
So where does this leave us as a society contaminated by an epidemic that is catastrophic yet hidden by our country’s government? Little can be done to raise the level of severity of sexual assault until it stops happening in the place we rely on to have the people’s best interest.
No more electing officials with sexual harassment allegations and no more hiding sexual assault through private court settlements. We cannot allow our decision makers to be sexual predators and expect their actions not to trickle down to society. Changes in our government need to happen for progression to be made.
Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) for help.