America has been suffering from a lot of divisive beliefs lately — including those surrounding the #MeToo movement.
Many people believe the movement helped open the door to conversation about sexual harassment and sexual assault — as well as reduce the stigma that victims often felt. Simply realizing that they aren’t alone in their experiences has helped many victims find their voice and new strength. However, a surprising amount of people — 40 percent in at least one survey — indicate that they feel like the movement has gone too far.
It isn’t clear what that means to everyone, but respondents expressed concerns that a single accusation could ruin someone’s professional career and destroy their personal reputations far too easily. Others worried that someone they care about could be falsely accused by a vindictive romantic partner or co-worker. They also expressed feelings that some people were simply capitalizing on the sympathy and attention often afforded alleged victims.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, more women than men feel that victims should be given the benefit of the doubt. However, there are also divisions along political lines: Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to believe that false accusations of sexual harassment and assault are common.
So, what does all this mean if you are the victim of sexual harassment or unwanted sexual advances at work? Have the gains made in recent years thanks to the #MeToo movement been lost? Should you stay silent out of fear that the backlash will cause people not to believe you?
Absolutely not. It’s important to remember that polls ask people what they believe in general. They don’t address a specific case. They don’t describe how people will react to your story if you step forward. Your credibility and your evidence have nothing to do with the statistics.
In addition, one of the gains made is that people are now aware that sexual harassment is not a thing of the past, relegated to the days when a male boss chasing his pretty young secretary around a desk was treated like a laughing matter. It’s very much part of the present.
If you’re the victim of sexual harassment, you have every right to stand up for yourself. An attorney can help you determine the next step to take.