On Saturday, October 7th, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse announced that he will donate a campaign contribution from movie producer Harvey Weinstein to Day One, the only organization in Rhode Island that specifically deals with issues of sexual assault as a community concern.
We want to thank Senator Whitehouse for his generosity and for thinking of survivors’ needs during this time. His donation will go directly toward supporting the treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to elder adults.
The news about movie producer, Harvey Weinstein is appalling. Over the past week, numerous allegations and stories have surfaced exposing the long history of Weinstein using his power in inappropriate and coercive acts of sexual harassment and abuse. The notion that individuals with power and money are somehow above the law needs to change.
The individuals who have come forward and speak out about what happened to them deserve to be praised. It is not easy to come forward and report, especially when a victim fears retaliation. When others speak up, other victims can feel like they too can come forward to report.
People do not report sexual assault for a variety of reasons. Those who do come forward often face scrutiny and are met with disbelief — even more so when a person of influence has committed sexual violence. Recovering from sexual assault or abuse may take weeks, months or years. There is no timetable for healing which is why it often takes time for a victim to come forward.
It is encouraging to see that since the news of Mr. Weinstein’s harassment and abuse broke, his company, the Hollywood community, and politicians who have received thousands in donations have renounced his actions. Unfortunately, it was also reported that Mr. Weinstein’s actions were a well-known secret within Hollywood. If only this news was reported years earlier, it is possible that more women would not have been victimized.
Mr. Weinstein’s response to allegations did not help himself. His attempt to justify his behavior and make excuses are insulting to all sexual abuse and harassment survivors. Excuses that you came of age in the 60’s and 70’s when rules were different and that was the culture are absurd. No one should have to face sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace or anywhere else in the world.
It is important to recognize the impact such a high-profile case can have. This is an important time for the nation to discuss sexual harassment and sexual violence. We need to stand with survivors. For far too long we have shied away from discussing sexual violence. In having open discussions, we can educate one another in not only how to react when abuse happens, but how to prevent it in the first place. What we do and say about the issue of sexual violence matters. By increasing understanding of the issue, we can more effectively respond to survivors, enhance community safety, and ultimately prevent it. Together we can create a culture of equality and respect.
At Day One, we support survivors. Support is available for victims of sexual assault 24/7, no matter when the sexual violence occurred. Staff and volunteers are trained to accompany victims to medical facilities, police stations, and legal proceedings and advocate for their needs. We also offer a myriad of trauma informed clinical options.
While we never want to see an increase in cases of sexual assault, the courage of the survivors in this case and so many others is inspiring. Victims should first and foremost be believed if we are to be able to move forward with healing. If you are in need of help please call Day One at 401-421-4100 or our 24/7 helpline at 1-800-494-8100.