With the recent events in the media regarding the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it has sparked a larger awareness and discussion on social media than ever before. Prompting both men and women to open up about their personal experiences and build a community of people supporting each other; educating others on an issue that is still living unnoticeably within our society.
Popular beauty expert Caroline Hirons shared a deeply personal tweet discussing her experience being groped whilst 9 months pregnant. This ultimately started a thread of thousands of people sharing experiences and empathising with each other. Irish YouTuber Jonathan Joly from the Saccone-Joly’s also shared an experience he had of sexual assault after Hiron’s tweet. In his video he explains the importance of using the social media platform to raise awareness of issues like sexual assault and ensure that his audience remember that it is not just women that are affected by this issue; men are victims too.
“A survey shows that half of female undergraduate students know someone who has suffered sexual assault.”
Actress Alyssa Milano created the hashtag #MeToo for women and men to speak up if they had been sexually assaulted or harassed to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. A report from The Guardian shows that within just 24 hours “Facebook said that 4.7 million people around the world engaged in the #MeToo conversation, with over 12 million posts, comments and reactions”. This has made many people understand the severity of the issue and why we need to raise awareness rapidly throughout the world.
A Telegraph survey shows that half of female undergraduate students know someone who has suffered sexual assault or unwanted advances ranging from groping to rape. This is not just female students, male students suffer just as much but with stereotypes of being ‘manly’ and ‘confident’, social expectations have them silenced.
“If someone touches you inappropriately without consent then that is sexual assault.”
When starting at University, everything is new to you. The surroundings are new and you are in that limbo of transition. Freshers week comes to the rescue, with opportunities to attend events with thousands of people that are in the same boat. But, with one too many drinks and people being overfriendly, it can get too much.
Everyone is taught that if someone is harassing you, just say no, but it’s easier said than done when said person will not leave you alone. Never blame yourself; this is the most important rule. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable and not leaving you alone when you ask, that is harassment. Likewise if someone touches you inappropriately without consent then that is sexual assault. There is a false belief that to be sexually assaulted, it means you have to have been raped. This is not true and the hashtag #MeToo is helping to eliminate this stigma.
Being intoxicated is not an excuse, and many people think they can get away with that. You are at your most vulnerable when you have had a drink. People seem to think that because you are in a busy and enclosed space that no one will notice a ‘sly’ grope but this is wrong. There needs to be more reassurance for victims of sexual assault as there are people around to help you. No-one should get away with it and you shouldn’t be afraid of speaking out, you would be surprised at not being alone in your experience.
Never sit in silence. Too many people brush it off as nothing and keep it to themselves when they have been intentionally made to feel uncomfortable. What people don’t realise is that sexual assault is real and it is happening more and more to people all over the world. It’s time to spread awareness.
There is always someone to talk to, whether that be confidentially or openly to a friend or family member. Portsmouth University offer a range of services to ensure that students are as safe and comfortable as possible. There are many contact details for student support services and wellbeing on MyPort or you can email a member of staff that you feel comfortable talking to.
Just remember; you are not alone.