The Rambler

Opinion: Times Up for Unfair Consequences Caused by Sexual Assault in the Workplace

Allie Hundt, Copy/Communications Editor

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One in every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). These numbers are hard to swallow; however, it isn’t hard to believe, as it seems that everytime you turn on the T.V. a new sexual assault allegation has come out. Even our president has been accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women.

It all began when Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, including Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd. These bombshell allegations were followed by more from across the nation. Victims of sexual assault were inspired by others’ courage to go public with their stories.

Recently, movements such as #MeToo and Times Up have erupted, with men and women across the globe campaigning and showing their support for victims of sexual harassment and assault. Celebrities and common folk alike have made their support public, but it doesn’t end there. Sexual abuse still continues.

This is a movement, and it is important to realize that these allegations are not a trend; they are a chain reaction. For years, women have been too afraid to come out and admit what has happened to them. Beginning with Weinstein’s victims, women are empowering each other and passing on the courage it takes to publicly announce these allegations. Many of the men who have been accused held so much power over the women they assaulted that they pressured them into keeping their mouths shut.

Take Matt Lauer for instance. He only had sexual relations with those from his workplace. If these women were to come out immediately, the unfortunate outcome would be in the favor of Matt Lauer rather than the victims. The nondisclosure clause that many companies invoke prevents victims from publicly speaking against those they work with. Before true equality can be seen in the workplace, the nondisclosure clause needs to be eliminated.

Sexual harassment has been illegal in the workplace for 30 years now, but it has been a problem for a lot longer than that. And with sexual harassment claims, a victim has 300 days, under the federal law, to file their Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge.

In numerous instances when women have filed complaints and tried to put an end to workplace harassment, they have found that the odds were not be in their favor. If a woman is sexually abused by her boss who yields more power and makes more money for the company, the victim often times finds herself without a job. Women who have experienced this said that the company called it a layoff or downsizing.

These women need support for the brave actions they are taking. Some people might not realize that it takes a lot of courage to come out and admit to something as traumatizing as sexual assault.

With every new allegation, some people’s attitudes seem to be negative for the wrong reasons. I’ve been hearing a lot of people say things like, “Oh great, another one. We get it, just stop already.” I tend to agree with these people until I really listen to them and learn that it sounds like they are against the women admitting these truths. With everything that has been said about rape and sexual assault, I can’t believe that anyone would just simply be annoyed by these headlines.

Of course we can’t be sure that every allegation is completely realistic. However, some people’s  immediate thoughts are that the victim only wants attention or is holding an unrelated grudge over the person she is accusing. This is extremely insensitive, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to put down a man or woman for revealing such a horrific thing that has happened to them. A good number of these allegations haven’t been settled, but as a nation, we must provide endless support for the alleged victims until further information is released.

Sexual assault is a serious issue in our society; it has been for centuries. We might not be able to put a stop to these awful actions, but we can provide a network of support so that victims of sexual assault can safely call out their attackers, knowing that they will be protected from unfair judgement.

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