Every voice needs to be heard

Abbey Helppi

In the midst of the #MeToo Movement and the need for women’s empowerment, it can be easy to pass it off as someone else’s problem. Before the rise of #MeToo and the strong army of survivors that rose up with the hashtag, not many sexual assault cases were seen in the news.

But, the movement gave a voice to survivors to tell their story, and it spread awareness on the issue so that now, finally, there is widespread change happening. Men and women are rallying together and bringing an end to the stigma surrounding coming forward about sexual assault.

Seeing the news recently has shocked me to the core, and for good reason. After seeing the headlines, “After Weinstein: 51 Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Their Fall From Power” and “More than 160 women say Larry Nassar sexually abused them,” the sheer immensity of the issue was brought to light.

For the first time in history, men and women alike are saying “time’s up” for sexual harassment, but, for all of the headlines about sexual assault in the news recently, there are many stories that will still remain unsaid.
For every woman who spoke at the Nassar trials, having their voices heard was surely a powerful moment. However, for every woman there that day, there are survivors across the world who have been left in the dark.

We obviously have a long way to go before we end sexual violence. We need to give a voice to every person impacted. We need to support survivors and believe their words. We need to improve the system regarding sexual assault cases.

After reading into the controversy surrounding the Nassar trial and the connections with MSU administration, I was astonished that the abuse could have gone on for so long. This incident could have been stopped much earlier if certain procedures were in place. Every university, including NMU, can learn from this. How can we best help those affected by sexual assault? How can we prevent something like this from happening again?

Northern is a close-knit community full of diversity and personal growth, and we’re focused on a better future. We have accomplished a lot in terms of fighting adversity and providing equal opportunity for all. However, we are capable of much more.

How can we say that we are one of the best colleges in the Midwest, if we are lacking programs and resources to prevent sexual assault and support survivors?

I want to change that. We need to change that.

The sheer number of survivors coming forward with their stories is both heartbreaking and powerful. For far too long, their individual voices had been silenced. But, now, they have their voices back, and they’re not afraid to use them as a collective whole.

So why should you care? Why do I want to see change in the world, and at NMU? Why is it so important that we stand with the survivors?

The answer is simple: so that your child never has to say “me too.”