As more and more women come forward with inappropriate and unwarranted sexual advancements and actions from Harvey Weinstein, a much-needed conversation about sexual abuse and assault is beginning to occur. Currently, more than 60 women have publicly declared harassment, rape, and unwanted sexual advances from Weinstein.
The outpouring of support to these women has also paved the way for a #metoo conversation to take place. The hashtag has been used hundreds of thousands of times over the past few weeks from both women and men expressing they have also been a victim of this type of behavior. With current statistics showing someone in the United States is sexually abused every 107 seconds, it is no surprise that so many people are coming forward.
So what if the recent news and outpouring of personal stories has made you think about scenarios and experiences from your past. Perhaps you have been wondering if you should speak to someone about an event that happened to you, or perhaps you aren’t sure if you a memory you have falls under the definition of sexual abuse.
What is considered sexual abuse? Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity; a few examples of sexual abuse include unwanted kissing our touching, rape or attempted rape, pressuring or threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity, or sexual contact with someone who is drugged, drunk or unconscious.
In the case of Harvey Weinstein, women have shared a variety of experiences that would fall under the definition of sexual abuse. For example, film actress and director Asia Argento, has said that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 1997. Most recently, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra has shared that Weinstein violently raped her in the early 90s and continued sexually harassing her and interfering with her career for many years to follow. In addition, dozens of women have come forward stating Weinstein groped, touched or kissed them without consent.
Speaking on behalf of actresses in Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence recently shared a story about being forced into a naked linkup with other women early in her career, photographed, and shamed for being overweight. She was told to lose fifteen pounds in two weeks in order to keep a role. When she did try to speak out, she was told that while she was still “perfectly f—able,” she needed to lose weight. Feeling trapped, she shared she let the harassment continue for years.
So how should someone proceed if sexual abuse has happened to them? That answer is multifaceted and may involve contacting the police, working with a psychologist on a regular basis, and/or joining a support group/workshop to find additional support, encouragement and understanding.
At Trees of Hope, we offer numerous workshops for anyone who has experienced sexual abuse of any kind. Our VINE workshop was created for women who lives have been negatively impacted due to sexual abuse. The VINE program explains how to deal with the hurt and effects of sexual abuse using the Shelter From the Storm curriculum. Since the inception of this workshop, we have seen countless personal and family relationships restored.
Our ROOTS workshop is geared specifically towards men who have been traumatized due to sexual abuse. The workshop uses a specialized curriculum in addition to the Restoring Relationships text, all guided under biblical principles to bring the man from victim to survivor to thriver.
Last, our THORN program is specially created for any between the ages of 14 to 17 using a dedicated curriculum that caters to this tender age group.
Aside from our workshops, we encourage every adult to register for our upcoming SAP Programs that teach them how to protect the children they love. Learn how to speak to your children about sexual abuse, pornography, sex trafficking and more. Our next workshop will take place at Coral Ridge Presbyterian on November 16th at 6:30 p.m.
To learn more about Trees of Hope and any of our upcoming classes, visit www.treesofhope.org