If you have been following the news in the past weeks, you have likely heard about the trial of Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Nassar, the former doctor of the national American gymnastics team.
On Jan. 24, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in jail after a seven-day hearing in which over 150 women publically spoke out about sexual abuse they suffered while receiving “medical treatment” from the physician.
This sentence came only weeks after Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography charges.
Among those who publicly testified in his most recent hearing included Olympic medalists Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber.
Unfortunately, the stories told by these women were not unique.
Across the nation in recent months, women and men have bravely shared their personal experiences as survivors of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
Last April, Bill O’Reilly was forced out of Fox News after more than 50 advertisers withdrew from the show following claims of sexual harassment.
In November, Matt Lauer was fired after claims of sexual harassment came out.
These stories shocked individuals across the nation. Across all professions and in locations from Hollywood to Washington, D.C., individuals are gaining a voice to speak out against a crime that has gone unpunished for far too long.
In December, TIME Magazine announced its Person of the Year, or rather, people.
The prestigious award was granted to those termed “The Silence Breakers,” women who had spoken up against powerful men in cases of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
The issue was released shortly after the #MeToo movement took off on social media.
The cover included the faces of celebrities like Ashley Judd and Taylor Swift, but it also drew questions in regard to a partially displayed arm. The frame carefully crops out the individual’s body and face.
Upon questioning, TIME has stated that this image of the partial arm is a symbol. It is a sign of solidarity for those women who have been unable to come out with their stories thus far.
As a college-aged woman, I am well aware that 20 percent of my female peers will receive their diplomas after becoming a victim of this horrific crime.
Although I wish I could deny this statistic or claim that my own personal experiences counter the narratives of those who have come forward, this is too far from the truth, and this is not OK.
When the #MeToo movement began, I watched nearly every single woman I have met — my female peers, the friends of my friends, my friends’ mothers, sisters and daughters — tell their stories.
I am thankful for the pure bravery of those who have spoken out in the past year.
These men and women knew very well the scrutiny they could come under for telling their stories, yet they persisted in doing what was right.
In doing so, they have created a movement that will make impacts on future generations.
Hopefully their stories will allow us to move closer to the day where this crime is dealt with seriously each and every time a victim comes forward.