October 15, 2017. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” and simultaneously set into motion one of the biggest women rights movements in history. On February 24, 2020, declarations of #METOO were answered as Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, was found guilty of third-degree rape but acquitted on the two most serious charges.
Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of the third-degree rape of a former aspiring actress, Jessica Mann, as well as a count of a criminal sexual act in the first degree of former "Project Runway" production assistant, Mimi Haley. The jury found him not guilty of two counts of predatory sexual assault and further acquitted a count of first-degree rape against Mann. His sentence weighs from five to 25 years on the top count.
This verdict toward one of the movie industry’s most powerful mogul is a massive win for the #METOO movement. The accusations of sexual assault that felled Weinstein are not unique for the entertainment industry. In partnership with The Creative Coalition, Women in Film and Television and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, USA TODAY surveyed 843 women who work in the entertainment industry and asked them about their experiences with sexual misconduct.
The results were shocking: 94% of women surveyed answered that they experienced a type of sexual assault throughout their time in the entertainment industry. Out of those 843, one out of four women reported it in fear of the power of their abusers. In 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimated that 60 percent of women experienced unwanted sexual attention in the workplace ranging from comments to coercion from both men and women.
There are ways to protect yourself. One of the most concise and helpful list of self-help tips comes courtesy of Joy Witwer, LISW-S, Intake Services Manager at Samaritan Behavioral Health in Dayton, Ohio. Witwer spoke to Premier Health Now on how to prevent sexual assault or stop it. She advises the following:
Recognize predatory behavior. Sexual harassers can appear to be egocentric and showing little regard for your feelings.
Identify what’s inappropriate for you. Every person’s experience may be different, but no situation is invalid. Know what’s right and wrong for you.
Say no. Repeat it if you must, but say no. If they don’t stop, speak up and report it.
Know your rights. The law gives you the right to speak up and report harassment.
Don’t blame yourself. Every person deserves respect even if it isn’t always shown to you. Do not blame yourself for others behavior, it isn’t your fault.