Hollywood prompts movement to speak out about sexual violence

Attorney Gloria Allred (left) and her client Heather Kerr speak during a press conference regarding the sexual assault allegations that have been brought against Harvey Weinstein and what he told Kerr about what she had to do to get a job in Hollywood at Allred’s office Oct. 20, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Olivia Munn is just one of the latest stars to claim she was sexually harassed.

But Hollywood isn’t the only place where sexual violence is prevalent. In fact, Indiana has the second-highest rape rate for high school-aged girls, in the nation. That’s according to a U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2015.

Hollywood most recent look at sexual harassment started with Harvey Weinstein.

“He’s a powerful person and he used his power to leverage that with young women,” said Stacy Vessely, who lives in Greenwood.

But the allegations didn’t stop with Weinstein. Many more victims have come forward. Movie producer and director Brett Ratner is accused of sexually harassing Munn. Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey announced plans to seek treatment after multiple men came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct.

The reports of sexual misconduct from Hollywood types has prompted a movement and brought others to also speak out.

“I was abused as a child. I was sexually abused as a child,” Carolyn Fabrie-Flores said.

It was difficult for Fabrie-Flores to say anything at the time.

“It’s terrifying when you tell. The punishment becomes on you, not the abuser.”

But she found her voice and encourages other victims to do the same.

“Hopefully feel empowered to say ‘no.’ To say this is happening to me. I don’t like it. I don’t want it.”

According to the CDC, 18 percent of victims in Indiana report their assaults.

Aly Austin is a sexual assault community advocate with Families First in Indianapolis. She said many victims stay silent for various reasons.

“That could be fear of retaliation from the perpetrator. Fear that the first responders won’t take them seriously. Feeling like the police won’t do anything,” Austin said.

Although Austin would like the number of reports to go up, she doesn’t push her clients to get police involved.

“Just knowing that it’s not your fault and however you chose to deal with it. It’s going to be your own individual experience,” she said.

The statute of limitations in Indiana regarding sexual assault varies based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, age, crime, how much time has passed since the assault and the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator.

Families First offers free and confidential service to victims.