Why are sex violence victims reluctant to report?

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - As fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal continues in Hollywood, health officials in Utah say sex assault continues to be a blight on the state. 

Weinstein, the Hollywood producer who has groomed a slew of actors for stardom, is accused of sexually harassing and assaulting dozens of women and abusing his position of power. 

In Utah, one in three women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the Utah Dept. of Health. Men also experience sexual abuse and sexual harassment, even in the workplace. 

A majority of cases are never reported, said Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator Megan Waters. 

"They might have fear for their safety, they might have fear of retaliation if they come forward, they might have jobs on the line if they are being abused or harassed by someone who is in a position of power in the workplace," said Waters. 

"Men are facing additional barriers," she added. "There are a lot of rigid gender norms at play. It's a lot of shame."

Waters said it's important for male and female victims to feel safe reporting sexual violence to friends, family and colleagues. At times, it may be difficult to process the news, especially if the alleged perpetrator is a friend or family member. Still, each report should be taken seriously, Waters said. 

In an ABC4 Utah Facebook poll, more people reported staying silent after witnessing or being victims of sexual harassment in the workplace than reporting it. 

The culture of silence is dangerous and empowers perpetrators to continue the behavior, Waters said. 

For more on resources available for victims of sexual abuse, click here. 


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