I could feel myself audibly exhale as I read the news about the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh last week. It seems like the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the President Trump allegations are just a few of hundreds of sexual assault allegations from this year. 

There is something disheartening about reading that men with so much wealth and power can stoop so low. The worst part about this story and many others is hearing about the backlash from the public. According to the Skimm, Christine Ford, the woman making these accusations against Kavanaugh, now has to relocate from her home due to death threats.

How can this be? A woman who is coming forward about a damaging part of her life is being threatened by the public. A woman who is coming forward and standing up for herself is being reprimanded. Shouldn’t we be angry at the person who caused her pain? This reaction from citizens perplexes me as it is something I’ve seen on countless occasions with stories just like this. 

In the alcohol and sexual assault education that Elon students are all required to take upon arrival, we are quizzed on what to do if someone you know has been sexually assaulted. I can distinctly remember one question that asked, “What do you not say to someone who has been sexually assaulted?” and the answer was, “Sympathize with the aggressor.” I’m sure a lot of us thought, "Duh," but then real-life situations come around, and we see people defending the person at fault. Now, we don’t know if these allegations are true, but what if they are? Ford had to be relocated from her home because she no longer felt safe after speaking out. Ford is the victim, yet she is the one who is fearing for her life. 

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one out of every six American women is a victim of either attempted or completed rape. One in six women has been a victim of this assault, and we wonder why more of them don’t speak out about it. It is disgusting that there is this type of backlash to someone who just wants justice to be served but instead is punished. 

We’ve seen this on college campuses as well, where schools try to silence women and men who have been assaulted because it’s bad publicity. These victims are ridiculed and reprimanded for standing up for themselves, and I just can’t understand why. It might be because I am a woman and would hope that if something like this ever happened to me, my friends, family and strangers would support me in doing what I feel is right. Or it could simply be because I was raised knowing that sexual assault is not something that should be taken lightly. 

All I know is that I feel empowered by the women in the President Trump, Harvey Weinstein and now Brett Kavanaugh cases who finally decided to stand up for themselves. Even though they knew the public may not believe them or support them, they couldn’t stay in the dark any longer. We, as the community of Elon and of the world, should stand behind these women and men who have the courage to come forward and speak their truth.