By Dr. Bharti Raizada
Sexual violence is widely prevalent and is a real issue.
Sexual violence and associated trauma can range from minor to major.
As per CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), one in every 3 women and one in every 6 men have experienced sexual violence in the form of physical contact.
Many incidents are unreported.
Following statement is from an article, by Brendan Murphy, in AMA wire,
“Nearly, 15% of medical students- 1 in 7-have reported being subjected to offensive sexist remarks or names, while 4% reported being the victim of unwanted sexual harassment, according to data from the 2017 association of American Medical Colleges’ of Graduation questionnaire.”
Who is the victim?
Anyone can be a victim and it can occur at any age- in childhood, in youth or in old age. Victim can be a working woman, homemaker, women in power, or student. It happens in rich families and poor families, in developing countries and developed countries, in joint families and nuclear families, basically everywhere. Boys/males can also be victims.
Who is the Culprit?
- Usually, the Perpetrator/Molester/Predator is a male
- Family members
- People in power
- People in workplace.
- Even females can be the perpetrators.
These people may have a double personality- one for victims and one for everyone else. They may be well respected in family, community, and society.
Why many victims do not speak at the time of the incident?
- They fail to realize what happened
- Are in denial
- The victim is a child and does not know whom to report and what to say.
- Believe that if they speak up then no one will believe them as molesters are usually well respected in the society or are powerful and famous.
- Believe that they will not get support and will be asked to shut up, stay silent and hide the incident and will be marginalized.
- Believe that they will be blamed and stigmatized for what happened.
- If the abuser is a known or family member, they do not want to destroy relations.
- Are ashamed to speak up.
- Victims are told that it is normal and to just get over it and forget and move forward as there are better things to do in life.
- They are threatened with consequences and retaliation.
- Are scared of the person or scared to lose job and promotion.
- They are labeled a troublemaker.
- Reporting and legal proceedings are long; itself a harassment, need money and time off work, become a public incident, and the topic of gossips.
- Authorities are working for institutions and corporations and not for victims.
Effects on victim
- Mental trauma, Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Recollection and reliving of events if they see someone else going through same.
- Abnormal relations and sexual life
- Becoming the perpetrator herself and driving pleasure by seeing others suffering in a similar way.
- Becoming violent and harming the perpetrator
- Suicide and homicide can occur
What are the options?
- Be strong and say no to abuse.
- Expose these people during or immediately after the incident or asap
- Collect evidence and report to authorities
- Confront the molester directly.
- Take counseling
- Support other victims.
- Males and females who are witnesses should come out of their comfort zones and support victim and speak up the truth
- The Person who does this is sick and needs treatment, support, and counseling. Help him also.
- Accept victims with dignity, love, and respect. Help them heal. Give them resources.
- Forget and forgive. Some victims may even forget the incidence.
- Have a big heart and understand that predator is not the same person now and has a family and career and your truth can destroy his world and his family who is not at fault.
- Male victim should also speak up and come forward, spread awareness, and help prevent it.
- Make support groups for victims, molesters, and their families.
What not to do-
- Do not accept that it is a norm and do not keep tolerating
- Do not let yourself in risky or life-threatening situations.
- Do not spread hate
- Do not use this movement as an opportunity to take revenge, blame innocent people, and destroy their relations, family, happiness, career etc. Do not use this movement as a weapon to harass someone.
What is not #metoo:
If someone is telling you to do proper work at workplace.
Someone is harassing you in a way that is not sexual in nature.
Someone is unfair at work.
Consensual sexual act.
Guessing that x person has done it.
The result of this movement
- Spread of awareness. No more such thing as boys are boys.
- Victims have courage to come forward, speak up and get support.
- The perpetrators are being called, and justice is being served.
There are real victims and there are opportunists.
Men are fearing women and are avoiding contact with them. There are talks about consent forms. Should men carry the consent forms with them all the time and get one signed by a girl before any little thing or interaction with females. Men are scared and nervous. They may not like to work with females or guide them or mentor them or hire them out of fear.
What needs to stop
- Sexual harassment, assault, molestation, and violence
- False allegations, accusations
Some Shows and Reads based on this issue-
Movie—Monsoon wedding ( family member is influential, well respected and is child predator).
One episode of Satyamev Jayate on child sexual abuse.
Allegations against Dr. Robicheaux, and Ms. Riley and Dr. Larry Nassar. (People in power and at the workplace).
Allegations against Nana Pateker and Alok Nath (Famous People)
Movie I am- based on Male child sexual abuse by a family member
Dr. Bharti Raizada is a Chicago based anesthesiologist