The #MeToo movement ripped the band-aid off a wound that deeply affected women in the United States and abroad for time immemorial.
Sexual assault is serious law enforcement and public health problem that indicates a deep rot at the core of the culture. Thankfully, women stepping up to share their personal stories and lend emotional support to one another has helped to begin to reverse the damage caused by sexual violence and the social stigma attached to it for survivors.
Pop culture has an enormous healing role to play in this ongoing social movement. Here is how the entertainment industry can positively impact survivors of sexual assault.
Unfortunately, sexual assault survivors can often feel cut off from society. They might hesitate to share their experiences with friends or family for fear of judgment. They might likewise balk at approaching law enforcement for fear that nothing will be done aside from further humiliation and injury for the victim.
That’s where the power of the entertainment industry can lend a helping hand.
For example, in a partnership between the sexual assault survivors’ advocacy group RAINN and Lifetime Television, the network ran an expose on Jeffrey Epstein and his years of abuse of young girls and women (many of them underage). RAINN also set up a hotline for viewers to watch to share their own experiences and reach out for help.
RAINN reported a 34% increase in calls to the hotline, many from victims speaking out about their abuse for the first time.
Changing the Narrative
One of the biggest hurdles around reforming the culture that permits widespread sexual abuse in the first place is changing the narrative surrounding the issue.
This includes shifting societal blame from the victim (where it all too often lies) and onto the shoulders of the men who commit the violence. Pop culture can have an enormously beneficial effect in this regard by telling the stories of women firsthand.
Exposing the Problem
We don’t talk about sexual violence – its causes for perpetrators and its effects for victims. Shining a spotlight on the problem can help survivors by merely increasing awareness of the problem.
We still have a long road ahead as a society to correct the horrible injustice of sexual assault that has gone on far too long. The entertainment industry can serve as a powerful healing tool in this work.