Editorial: Court cases following #MeToo movement show victims’ bravery in describing abuse
(Boston Globe) By the time a woman came forward with allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of her former teacher and a prominent New England family, the story was old news.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe, was a minor in 1980 when she reported her allegations of sexual abuse by her teacher and family members, but no charges were filed. Six decades later, the story of her claims is playing out in court. This is the latest chapter in a story that began in the 1980s, when women came forward with accusations of sexual assault against prominent men.
These days, women are telling their stories in more public ways than ever, and the #MeToo movement has inspired both men and women across the country to speak up about what they say is a problem in the world of public power. There’s now a movement to hold accused sexual predators to account and to show them that they will be held accountable.
The new wave of women being sexually assaulted on school campuses and in their homes is part of that movement. While this has happened before, in a time when women were largely reluctant to come forward and had fewer chances to be heard because of legal barriers, a lot has changed since the 1980s when it was first reported.
In the early 1980s, the women who came forward were predominantly women who had been raped. By the 1990s, many more women were coming forward about sexual harassment and assault. In 2015, a study of more than 17,000 women in the U.S. found 3.4% of women have suffered domestic or sexual violence, according to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
And while the sexual abuse on college campuses is a controversial topic in the news, there are more reports about how to address it. The Boston Globe recently published a piece about a new law in Massachusetts designed to help women who have been sexually assaulted or abused to get justice.
For those looking for a solution, a new law in Massachusetts is creating a way for victims to seek justice and give themselves a chance at healing. A bill filed Wednesday in the House of Representatives would force colleges, universities and community colleges in the state to adopt a set of policies that would make them public and open to the public.
House Bill 486 requires the colleges to allow students to visit the campus and report complaints of sexual assault or abuse