Earlier this month, news broke detailing accounts of sexual assault by film producer Harvey Weinstein against several high-profile women including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan. One of the most recent Hollywood screen stars to openly discuss being a victim of sexual violence at the hands of Weinstein is award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. In a New York Times op-ed piece published on October 19th, Nyong’o writes about a number of inappropriate encounters with the movie mogul dating back to her days as a student at the Yale School of Drama. When recalling one incident, she expressed, “Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage. I thought he was joking at first. He was not. For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe. I panicked a little and thought quickly to offer to give him one instead: It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.”
High-profile celebrities like Nyong’o speaking out against behavior such as Weinstein’s and sharing their experience brings much-needed attention to the issue of sexual misconduct. Inappropriate touching, such as in Nyong’o’s interaction with Weinstein’, highlights the glaring fact that on average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. During the month of October, which is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it is especially important to rally around those who are victims of abuse and educate one’s self on measures to take to reduce the risk of future harm. In terms of safety planning, healthfinder.gov offers various tips. Experts suggest individuals always trust their instincts about situations and people and learn the warning signs for someone who may possess violent or controlling tendencies. Protecting yourself and becoming knowledgeable about illegal sexual behavior prevention can potentially save you or someone else from physical, emotional, and mental scars.
Domestic violence and sexual abuse are serious matters. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, you can speak with someone who is trained to help. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.