Is The #metoo Movement Enough?
This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is an act in which a person sexually touches another person without that person’s consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will.
Today, getting a notification on your phone that yet another male actor has been accused of sexual assault, is normal. But, there is nothing normal about hundreds of women standing up each day to let the world know they are also victims. Every 98 seconds another person is sexually assaulted, and every 98 seconds something traumatic happens to a person that can spark a mental illness. This is NOT ok. I wanted to become part of this movement that is helping to normalize the conversation in order to put an end to this plague.
Time Magazine identified their Person Of the Year as many women and men who have come out in light of this movement. They all share their stories in an effort to inform the public about how common this injustice occurs. While this movement and the work everyone involved is monumental, is it enough? I spoke with Betty Noel about the stigma of sexual assault and its affects on our life.
Ms. Noel is an attorney and a registered nurse with a background in health and health policy. She graduated from Harvard, Yale and John Hopkins. She works for Deputy Title IV Coordinator.
A common misconception associated with sexual assault is that someone is lying when explaining their story. “We as people import a lot of our experiences into our own understand of the traumatic situation. When testifying it may be true that no one is lying and the accused and accuser both have very different stories of the same event. Stories can be fragments of stories and memories are easily altered, so no one needs to be lying if they are mistaken.” These gaps in stories are known as fragmented memories. Another fallacy around sexual assault is that you can and will fight back or say no. “In a stressful situation you could be paralyzed, and being so scared you are subdued and seemingly doing something ‘willingly.’”
In light of the #metoo movement and other sexual assault news in the media, Ms. Noel believes that the alteration of the stigma is moving in both directions. She continued to elaborate by stating that the subject of sexual assault is becoming something people are feeling more comfortable talking about. She believes we need a new culture movement and that some of the news is sensationalism which may or may not be effective for the much needed change. However, social media has begun to conflate the extreme seriousness of sexual assault. Cyber-stalking or verbal harassment is not a rape, while both are iniquitous, they are being given the same attention and they are entirely different issues that need to be addressed separately. “Those who are accused of harassment are being treated in the same aggressive manner of those accused of assault.” Our society has begun to be quick with the condemnation of those accused without considering the Due Process law. We can not condemn a wrongdoer until they are proven that that is what they are.
“Support for those who come forward is extremely important and powerful.” So how can you help to support? Respect the rights of the accused as well as the victim. As an authority figure, asking questions to the accuser to let them decide how to choose their next steps in the process is extremely important. Ms. Noel finds that saying “I believe you” isn’t always the role of the listener, but that you should never tell them they are lying. She also suggests never using the term victim because of the stigma it has and the emotion is might provoke from the accuser. Letting them vocalize their emotions and taking cues from the person you are trying to help is the best way to help them empower themselves.
We need to empower one another and stand up in the face of what may scare us. Many have aided the movement by making themselves vulnerable by saying they are victims. Admittance is the first step, but we still have yet to deal with the mental health affect this movement may have.
If you are someone who has witnessed or been a victim, there is an online community willing and able to support and listen to you. You are NOT alone. https://metoomvmt.org/
Along with the other upperclassman at my school enrolled in the Abnormal Psych course, I will be hanging posters with local and national organizations numbers and addresses for those who may not want to speak to our school’s consolers, friends or family about what they are going through. Additionally, we will be using an all school assembly to briefly explain each of our projects and how we as a community can help catalyze change locally. For you reading my project, please print out some numbers of local centers or hotlines for those who are affected and may need to call.
“Me Too.” You Are Not Alone. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2018.
What Is Sexual Assault? Dir. AMAZE Org. YouTube. YouTube, 12 Oct. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2018.