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Speak Up! Why the Time to Raise Your Voice Is Now

I strongly feel that people need to talk about abuse. Doing so can help put an end to it.

The front page of the Boston Globe on January 6, 2002.

The front page of the Boston Globe on January 6, 2002.

The 2002 Boston Archdiocese Scandal

Back in 2002, through the course of over 600 articles in The Boston Globe, the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese was exposed. The investigative reporters went on to win the Pulitzer prize for their services towards society. The extensive investigation into the scandal revealed that dozens of priests in the Boston parish sexually abused minors, mostly boys under the age of 13. The victims' families were made silent through private settlements conducted within the Church itself by hired attorneys bound by the attorney-client privilege. The Church then reassigned the accused priests to a different parish. This kept on circulating these predators throughout the country. Anyone who tried to speak up was silenced by the Church, and the deep rooted faith of the Boston community in the parish prevented them from questioning every unorthodox step that the parish took to keep the scandal secret. This helped continue the abuse of minors. It's one of those instances where almost every single person of influence was aware of the evil that had taken shelter in their city and yet they chose to look the other way. After the story broke out in 2002, hundreds of victims came forward with the truth. The victims were not just from Boston, they came from the entire country. The 2015 movie Spotlight is based on the rigorous investigative journalism that finally brought out the truth into the light. The investigation made the people of Boston aware of the crimes that were being committed right under their nose.

"The church wasn’t a public entity, didn’t have to give us anything, didn’t want to give us anything. Sex abuse victims were often embarrassed and ashamed, and didn’t want to talk. The lawyers who represented them had developed this great cottage industry where they were making a lot of money, so they had no interest in talking. So it was the ultimate challenge: How do you get information?"

— - Sacha Pfeiffer, Spotlight Team (The Boston Globe)

Harvey Weinstein Sexual Abuse Scandal

Harvey Weinstein, an all-powerful Hollywood film producer and founder of The Weinstein Company, has been accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment and assault. These accusations were brought to light by The New York Times and The New Yorker. Afterwords, several prominent members of the Hollywood fraternity spoke out against Weinstein and his predatory antics via social media. Criminal investigations into complaints from at least six women began in Los Angeles, New York, and London. The unbelievably long list of women allegedly abused by Weinstein includes the name of famous Hollywood A-listers, who have come forward with the startling revelation that almost all members of the film fraternity somewhat knew about Weinstein's abusive practices and yet none of them took any sort of action against this Hollywood behemoth, mainly because they did not want to put their careers in jeopardy. In 2015, Jordan Sargent wrote an article for the Gawker media blog where he stated, "Rumors of the powerful producer leveraging his industry power for sexual satisfaction—consensual or otherwise—have tended to remain unaired, confined to hushed conversation and seedier gossip-blog comment threads." Since the allegations have surfaced, Harvey Weinstein has lost his seat at his own company, and he has been openly condemned by the film fraternity. It seems unlikely that he will ever step back into Hollywood again.

"I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard.If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him."

— Quentin Tarantino, Film-maker and known associate of Harvey Weinstein.

The face of a predator; Harvey Weinstein at an event for The Weinstein Company

The face of a predator; Harvey Weinstein at an event for The Weinstein Company

Do You See the Pattern Here?

It wouldn't be unfair to say that a lot of people are actually aware of the unlawful and inhumane proceedings hidden from the public eye, and yet no one ever chooses to come forward. People know what's going on and still ignore the facts, they look the other way instead of stepping up and doing the right thing. Failure to acknowledge the existence of such evil in the society is why it manages to grow to a tremendous proportion. But why do people stay quiet?

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People Are Afraid

In most cases, whenever someone does come forward and tries to take a stand against those who commit anti-social crimes, they are beaten down into submission by the society itself. The people behind these crimes are unimaginably powerful and influential and their prominence in society gives them a huge advantage over anyone who stands against them. They are sheltered by the system itself, and for every Harvey Weinstein whose crimes have been brought into the light, there are dozens who still operate in the darkness, preying upon a society that's too afraid to go against the ferocious flow of the system. Even the victims are too afraid to say something. Without a strong voice to oppose these perpetrators, they often go unpunished and their crimes remain undiscovered. The silence is what encourages more crimes like this. And for this silence, all the people, even you and I, are directly responsible. In case of the Boston scandal, Phil Saviano, a 63-year-old survivor of the Catholic clergy abuse, has stated in various interviews about how he was ridiculed and mocked when he first started to speak out against the priests and that almost everyone he met trying to break the story of the abuse scandal did not take him too seriously. Even today, Saviano claims that the Catholics seem to be completely unbothered about the abuse crisis and that the Church still has not done everything in its power to bring the guilty priests to justice.

"If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one."

— A quote from the movie 'Spotlight'.

But People Do Speak Up!

Not all hope is lost though. Every once in a while, someone does speak up. Someone does come forward with the truth, regardless of all the hardships that come along with it. And just like the ripple effect, others follow suit and together they take a stand against the injustice that prevails in society. If enough ripples are created, one might just change the course of the river. And with the existence of various platforms such as the internet, voicing one's opinions or grievances has become easier than it used to be in the past. We have become much more accepting and aware now, and though there are people out there working hard to discredit anyone who tries to "blow the whistle," it is getting harder by the day to keep the truth under wraps.

2002-boston-priests-scandal

Break the Silence

We must talk about the things that need to be talked about. Instead of hiding our issues and acting as if they do not exist, we must bring them out into the open. Almost every pressing issue as of now is considered taboo by society and people try to live up to society's standards by not addressing these issues. This not only results in the fostering of those who work to thwart the balance of a peaceful society but also enables them to shut the mouths of their victims. So it's high time to break the silence. It's time to start talking and take action. It's time to start interfering instead of shutting our eyes to the acts of injustice as we pass them by.

And when enough people start talking, someone always listens.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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