From Bill Cosby to Larry Nassar: Why Sexual Assault Cases are Taken Seriously Now

“I felt like I had no control . . . [he] took it away and the people around me took it away.” -Anonymous

“I was at a Nascar race surrounded by my family and got sexually assaulted. My dad was my hero. He will always be my hero.” - #metoo

“I was a virgin when it happened. When [he] stole that title from me, he stole more than just the meaning. He stole my innocence, my trust in men, and my want to be intimate with any future partners.” - Anonymous

"There were many people in my life that acted like I had some part in the night that snatched a part of me away for it to keep. I could see the judgement in their eyes and feel it in the way they asked how I was doing." -Anonymous

There have been thousands of sexual assault cases pre the Harvey Weinstein expose, like the 1991 Anita Hill versus Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, that weren't taken seriously. One may have heard about them briefly on the news, but those cases didn't receive nearly as much coverage as what we are seeing today. Even when comedian Hannibal Buress first spoke out against Bill Cosby, which led to more and more accusations from multiple women, America was more focused on the victimizer than the victims. Around this time Donald Trump also had his own scandal when The Washington Post uncovered a tape recording of our current president boasting about groping women. Again this case was quickly swept under the rug by "more important" news like what the Kardashian family was up to.

Lately though, everywhere one turns there are front page stories and news reporters talking about a recent sexual assault. Why is this? How can a country go from not caring about sexual assault to it being the current topic of conversation? There are many reasons America is just now caring about these cases.

We know the victims names.

Many of the women who spoke out against Harvey Weinstein, we know them. We are familiar with their prominent status within Hollywood. The 84 total accusers included household names such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Cara Delevingne, Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, and Lupita Nyong'o.

America has loved and looked up to these strong women for many years and to hear that they were victimized was shocking. It all comes down to what society pays attention to. Movies and social media are two of the main forms of entertainment that people look at during their daily lives. These names have made people start to pay attention.

More women started speaking out.

Some call it the Weinstein Effect. Once women who kept quiet about their own victimization saw the magnitude of how many others shared similar stories, they realized that they weren't alone. This gace those quiet women the strength they needed to come forward on their own cases. America also saw that the previous power dynamic of a famous man being accused by a "nobody" in hopes to gain fame was shattered. The old ideal created a false narrative that only diminished and discredited the women's stories, but it was no longer allocable.

The way victims were treated changed.

We have seen time and time again, where a sexual assault victim is treated as if the incident was their fault. Society tended to blame the victims for choices that resulted in being in that situation. "Her skirt was too short," "Look at how she dresses, she was asking for it," we used to hear these types of statements all the time.

More and more of society started saying "we believe you" when cases of sexual assault appeared in the news. Women are now more willing to come forward because they aren't afraid of how they will be treated.

This all can be seen in the current case of Larry Nassar.

Nassar, a former United States Olympic gymnastics team and Michigan State doctor, used his position to sexually abuse 265 different girls. These victims included Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber. These are prominent girls within the gymnastic community and that got people talking. The hashtag metoo spread virally all over social media, showing the magnitude of women who have been sexually assaulted. 

The beginning quotes are from 3 women (and myself) who have used that very hashtag once or twice. Interviewing those brave women was any eye opening experience for a woman like myself who was too afraid to tell people my story. These women who want to remain nameless shared their own stories with me over coffee one afternoon. One would think that it was a somber event, but at the end of our conversation, I felt empowered. 

"The thing is though, you can't stop trusting people. Once you do that, you start to lose trust in even yourself."

"Love . . . love heals all. But I didn't find love in others, I found love within myself."

"People excepted me to be broken and fragile. You know what I said to that. Fuck it. I let myself feel the hurt, feel the pain, and them I damn well moved on. No one is in control of my life, my body, and my destiny except me."

It is time for sexual assault victims to be heard and their day is here. #metoo


  1. Sarah,thank you for having the courage to tell us your story !! I hope more and more victims come forward everyday.

    1. aww thanks your comment means a lot! Yes I wrote this post to spread the message and hopefully others will feel safe to share their own stories.

  2. Amen child !!! It takes an extreme amount of courage to stand up to Bullies that are famous or not !!!!! God bless you !!!

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