Follow brave examples, speak out on abuse

Royal Purple Editorial Staff Opinion

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Amidst a surge of sexual harassment and abuse cases finally coming to light after survivors being scared and shamed into silence, it can be challenging to keep up with the news cycle as allegations continue to arise into the public eye.

It can be even more challenging to make sense of how in some cases, such as the decades-long abuse of USA Olympic gymnasts by criminally convicted doctor Larry Nassar, went unreported and ignored by those in power.

It can’t be overlooked that there are some men in this world who see themselves in positions of power over women and use that as the basis for their actions. It’s up to the brave women and the gentlemen of the world to speak out and stand up against abuse.

More than 295 women have come forward over the past two years saying Nassar had sexually harassed or abused them when they visited his Michigan State University office due to injuries. Many of these women say they told MSU officials, and yet, their claims remained dismissed as simply overreactions to medical procedures.

But with Nassar sentenced to imprisonment for longer than he or anyone reading this editorial might even be alive, MSU officials are now scrambling to recover their image.

As the Winter Olympics in Pyongyang take over our news feeds and televisions for weeks, we’re reminded that we all have a role to play in preventing sexual misconduct. MSU officials should have taken those accusations seriously and acted much sooner. We need to learn their lesson by trusting women when they say they’ve been the victim of sexual harassment and assault.

No more dismissing women because of they’re “emotional.” No more ignoring their stories because the abuser is in a position of power and we don’t want to ruin careers over a bad decision. No more sympathy for abusers, period.

When we ignore the criminality of sexual abuse in favor of the abuser, we tell victims that justice matters – just not for them.

We cannot prevent abuse if we don’t speak out when we see it happening, whether that’s in the workplace or at a house party. We all need to play a role in ensuring that sexual misconduct doesn’t get swept under the rug, whether its within our friend groups, our workplaces or on our athletic teams.

Harassment and abuse can occur in all corners of the world, and as such, we as a campus need to continue to work together to speak out against and help prevent sexual abuse to the best of our ability. Whitewater Student Government has taken the lead in combating sexual assault by launching a local version of the ‘It’s on Us’ campaign in the last few years, which is a step in the right direction.

But combating abuse boils down to the individual level. It’s not enough for a movement or an organization to fix a phenomenon for us that is so individually driven. We all need to take a stand against sexual misconduct when we see it, from holding your friends accountable and reminding them that it’s reprehensible to take advantage of a person who doesn’t have the ability to consent to standing behind someone who’s been the victim of assault.

When we all take responsibility for reducing sexual misconduct, maybe we can ensure that we reduce the number of Nassars in the world and make society a more inclusive place for all.