I wasn’t going to write about this topic because it is getting a lot of attention at the moment, and rightly so. I think some of my thoughts surrounding the matter are quite controversial, so I was originally going to keep quiet. However, keeping quiet is what led to issues like this going on for so long, and staying silent just because I’m afraid of backlash seems silly considering the circumstances. No one will ever 100% agree with what you say, but it doesn’t mean it is not worth saying. This topic hits home for me a lot so I ask that you be respectful, as I have tried to be, if giving a response.
In this blog post I will be sharing some of the thoughts I have been having about the #TimesUp movement, and the sexual abuse and harassment allegations currently taking over the entertainment industry.
First of all I would like to say that any person who has come forward after being sexually harassed or abused is a very brave person. To have something like that happen to you and then re-live it as you tell someone about it must be a very difficult and upsetting thing to do. I commend anyone who has done it. You are an inspiration to others and it is thanks to the strength of people like you that others feel strong enough to come forward. No one, male or female, young or old, should have to feel objectified, scared or threatened anywhere in the world including their work place, home or on the street. The recent allegations have brought to light just how bad an issue this still is, but at least it gives us hope that we are now trying to make a world free of harassment, abuse and silence.
Though the #TimesUp movement is something I support, there is another side to all of this, a side I think a lot of people are afraid to talk about because of fear of upsetting or disrespecting true victims of these awful crimes. From the moment the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light, dozens of other allegations against people in the entertainment industry have also surfaced. Though it is sad to think we still live in a society where men and women can be manipulated, abused, threatened and silenced because of the abuse of power by others, there is another harsh reality that we must also face. This reality is that there are some twisted, sick people out there who put forward false allegations.
These people not only ruin the lives of the people they accuse, but they also undermine the truth of those people who have genuinely come forward with their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. In my opinion, these people are just as bad as the true predators that commit these horrible crimes. When sexual harassment and abuse is truly reported and the person is convicted, there are still no true “winners”. The attacker’s life is rightly ruined because of their actions and the victim has to live with what has happened to them for the rest of their lives. However, when someone is falsely accused and even proven innocent, that allegation follows them for the rest of their lives. Despite not doing anything wrong, people still wonder if it was true, still look at them differently, still think of them differently. Though innocent, they can still get a life sentence.
My goal when talking about this issue is not to try and silence victims of sexual harassment or abuse, or convince you that they are liars. My goal here is to talk about how false allegations, especially of this nature, can be life-ruining for those accused. Due in part to the momentum behind the #TimesUp movement, a lot of brave people will come forward with their true stories about their terrible experiences. For their bravery I hope they are rewarded with justice. However, there will be a select few who will make false allegations to get their 15 minutes of fame, to get pity and attention from others, to get revenge on someone they dislike, whatever their reasons. By doing this they could ruin the life of a good person and call into question the true allegations brought forward by true victims.
All I ask is that when you next see an allegation in the media, stop and think about what you are hearing/reading. I ask you to remember the lives of the people involved in the allegations, both the accuser and the accused. I ask you to remember that in our mostly democratic world, people are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.
We live in dark times, but slowly we are trying to better ourselves. For every rapist, terrorist, murderer, abuser, and silencer, there are ten of us that choose love, hope, kindness, gentleness, inclusion, understanding and laughter. There is hope for us, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. To achieve a world that is safe for future generations, we must stand together and fight for something better. We just need to make sure we are not sacrificing innocent people along the way.
I have left some links below for anyone who feels they have been the victim of sexual harassment or abuse. I implore you to use them. They will listen and they will do their best to help you, you just have to take the first step.
Rape Crisis Ireland: http://www.rapecrisishelp.ie/
RAINN (US): https://www.rainn.org/
Helplines (UK): https://www.itv.com/thismorning/rape-helplines