Over the past few months, it’s been disturbing to read some of the sexual assault and harassment allegations that have come out.
There are so many lately that some have gone to social media criticizing those who are coming out.
For instance, last week a top aide to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton posted on Facebook a message mocking those who have come forward.
In the post, Associate Deputy Attorney General Andrew D. Leonie stated early: “Aren’t you also tired of all the pathetic ‘me too’ victim claims? If every woman is a ‘victim,’ so is every man. If everyone is a victim, no one is. Victim means nothing anymore.”
However, tables turned Thursday when information about the post got out and he promptly resigned.
That was followed by a statement from the Attorney General’s Office stating: “The views he expressed on social media do not reflect our values … O.A.G. is committed to promoting and maintaining a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment,” according to a New York Times report.
The accusations that have come out are shocking and repulsive and in a way you wish it would stop. But at the same time, there is positive coming out of this: Victims are finding the courage to come forward against those who have taken advantage of them.
In many cases, those accused of harassment and assault are people in power. It’s no wonder that those victims would be initially afraid to come forward. But the #MeToo movement has changed that.
It was fitting that this year Time magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as the person of the year for 2017.
Those people and their courage to come forward have dramatically changed the entertainment business and the political arena everywhere, from Washington to municipal buildings.
In Alabama, Republican Roy Moore lost the U.S. Senate special election there last week undoubtedly because of claims from multiple women of sexual assault and his alleged effort to pursue relationships with teenagers when he was in his 30s.
In Hollywood, Taylor Swift was one of the first entertainers to make her harassment story known this year. Yet, she was made to feel bad about coming forward.
In the Time feature about the Silence Breakers, Swift said after she complained about a Denver radio DJ who had reached under her skirt and grabbed her rear end, the man was fired.
The DJ sued Swift for millions in damages. She countersued for a symbolic $1, then testified about the incident in August. The DJ’s lawyer asked her, on the witness stand, whether she felt bad that she’d gotten him fired.
“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” she replied. “I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine.”
At the same time, those who are accused of harassment deserve their day in court. Building on the momentum of the #MeToo movement, those who feel victimized should come forward as soon as possible. Sometimes, coming forward early can prevent things from escalating and can prevent others from becoming victims.
It’s better to stop things after one comment or one gesture, rather than letting them escalate.