Every two minutes, another American becomes the victim of a sexual assault.
Each year, 63,000 of these victims are children. And on college campuses, research shows that an average of 1 in 4 female seniors has experienced sexual assault during her undergraduate years — a prevalence so shocking that the White House created a task force to address the issue.
And yet — despite these alarming statistics — victims still struggle be taken seriously. They are blamed for what happened to them. They are accused of lying about or “asking for” attacks. Convicted assailants still get minimal jail time or no jail time at all.
These overwhelming injustices have prompted many celebrities to speak out on behalf of marginalized victims. These 11 stars have used their platforms to publicly support survivors of sexual assault — and publicly condemn the cultural attitudes that propagate such crimes in the first place. Here’s a look at how they have raised their voices:
Lady Gaga co-wrote 'Til It Happens to You' a song about rape on college campuses. The music video served as a harrowing PSA about the effects of sexual violence.
The song was also nominated for an Oscar, and at this year's Academy Awards, Gaga performed while dozens of sexual assault survivors stood beside her onstage. The powerful performance is well worth a re-watch.
In a 2014 interview, he directly addressed dangerous rape culture in the sports world, saying, 'What happens is (athletes) win and they go, 'You know that girl? She's my trophy. I deserve that girl. In fact, she don't even want to be with me, but I don't care. I'm going to take it.' What kind of mindset is that? Never never never never never should that ever be accepted.'
For 18 years, Mariska Hargitay has played a detective on 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.' The show inspired her to start a charity for survivors of sexual assault.
Hargitay has said that reading the scripts for the show -- which is often loosely based on real-life sexual crimes -- opened her eyes to both the epidemic of sexual assault and the crippling fear that keeps many victims silent.
That's why she started the Joyful Heart Foundation -- an organisation that offers healing and professional support for survivors.
Source: Joyful Heart Foundation
On her acclaimed sketch show, Amy Schumer used dark comedy to make viewers think harder about sexual assault.
Actor Matt McGorry of 'Orange is the New Black' made a speech for It's On Us, the White House's campaign to end sexual assault on college campuses.
'You're not alone, we will do better, we must do better,' McGorry said in his speech, addressing victims directly. 'I love you, I believe you and I stand with you. And no matter what, it is never you fault.'
In 2012 speech, Tina Fey blasted a Missouri politician who claimed women couldn't get pregnant if they experienced 'legitimate rape.'
It was during a gala for the Center for Reproductive Rights that Fey quipped: 'If I have to listen to one more grey-faced man with a two-dollar haircut explain to me what rape is, I'm gonna lose my mind.' (Watch her deliver the line for the full effect.)
The comment came in response to then-congressman Todd Akin, who erroneously claimed during a TV interview that, in cases of 'legitimate' rape, it's 'really rare' that women end up pregnant.
Mo'Nique, who endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of her older brother, dedicated her 2010 Golden Globe to other survivors.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Channing Tatum weighed in on Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who got a paltry 6-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
'It's like if you killed someone and got caught red-handed and just because you went to a nice school and you were a good swimmer, you somehow get a lesser sentence. That just doesn't make any sense,' Tatum said.
'I think rape culture is a very real thing,' he added.
Actress Gabrielle Union -- herself a victim of sexual assault -- penned an eloquent op-ed about the rape accusations against film director Nate Parker.
When Union was a teen, she was raped while at work. Two years ago, she signed on to play a character who is repeatedly raped in Nate Parker's upcoming film 'Birth of a Nation.'
Later, Union learned that Parker had been acquitted of rape charges 17 years ago.
'As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly,' Union wrote in her Los Angeles Times op-ed. 'On that night, 17-odd years ago, did Nate have his date's consent? (...) Although it's often difficult to read and understand body language, the fact that some individuals interpret the absence of a 'no' as a 'yes' is problematic at least, criminal at worst.'
Source: Los Angeles Times
David Schwimmer, of 'Friends' fame, is a director of The Rape Foundation, an LA-based nonprofit that aids victims and educates the public on sexual assault prevention.
Schwimmer's activism is personally motivated.
'I have several friends, men and women, who are victims of child sexual abuse,' he told Metro this year. 'Especially as a father of a five-year-old daughter, the entire subject matter is even more emotional and more meaningful to me.'
NFL linebacker DeAndre Levy wrote a powerful essay taking aim at toxic masculinity in the sports world.
'It's important to challenge many of the basic beliefs men have about what their relationships with women should be like,' he wrote on The Player's Tribune in April of this year. 'Sexually 'conquering' as many women as possible is expected and admired (...) An athlete's sense of entitlement to a woman's body is exacerbated because he has been idolized and put on a pedestal in a hyper-masculine culture.'
He concluded with a call to action: 'It's important for men, especially in a hyper-masculine culture (...) to stand up and challenge the values that have been passed down to us.'
Source: The Player's Tribune
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