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sexual abuse

Opening up about being sexually assaulted takes an overwhelming amount of strength. Thousands of women have come forward and shared their own stories since the wake of the #MeToo movement. Their courage is admirable and their experiences are harrowing, but most notably, they’re real.

Influential actresses and singers have shared their stories of sexual assault, including Lady Gaga.

Regardless of their success and status, these women are just like us. They’ve been through a traumatising ordeal and no amount of fame or money makes it any easier, something we all need to remember.

At the mere age of 19, Gaga was raped by a music producer. The Born This Way singer may have been one of the biggest names to come forward in the #MeToo narrative, but she is also a victim who continues to be affected by that assault every day.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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She told Teen Vogue: “I feel stunned. Or stunted. You know that feeling when you’re on a roller coaster and you’re just about to go down the really steep slope?”

“That fear and the drop in your stomach? My diaphragm seizes up. Then I have a hard time breathing, and my whole body goes into a spasm. And I begin to cry. That’s what it feels like for trauma victims every day, and it’s miserable,” the A Star Is Born actress shared.

“I always say that trauma has a brain. And it works its way into everything that you do.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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She continued to explain that sharing her story was her own personal choice, but it is different for every victim: “I feel like I’ve been an advocate but also a shocked audience member, watching #MeToo happen.”

Gaga explained that speaking out about being raped was like facing a monster: “It took years. No one else knew. It was almost like I tried to erase it from my brain. And when it finally came out, it was like a big, ugly monster. And you have to face the monster to heal.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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It is important for us to remember that the celebrities who come forward and share their personal experiences are human too.

They may be Oscar winners or Grammy nominees, but we need to remember, more than anything, they are victims and the courage it took for them to publicly open up makes them fearless heroes.

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Late last year, following a string of high profile sexual abuse allegations, a movement was created encouraging people to open the conversation and provide support for victims who has suffered in silence for too long. 

Since then, countless people have shared their own personal experiences through #MeToo, marking a shift in how we tolerate the issue. 

With that, many parents have chosen to break down barriers and open the discussion with their own children, in the hope that they will gain a greater awareness, and the ability to identify inappropriate behaviours. 

In an effort to inspire more of these types of conversations, YouTube channel Cut shared a poignant video of parent having a frank and honest conversation with their kids about sexual abuse. 

In the video, titled 'Parents Explain #MeToo', three mothers talk about what the movement represents and why it's so important. 

The emotional clip shows mother Nicole, explain what sexual abuse is to her son Nolan, before revealing that she had been assaulted as a child. 

“Sexual assault is where people do inappropriate things to other people including things with the private parts we just talked about. So a lot of people are scared to talk about when those bad things happen to them, okay?” she says.

“It happens to a lot of men and women, boys and girls. It happened to me when I was younger, I didn’t even tell Daddy until two years ago.”

“I think it’s important for you to know because these things can happen to kids, too.”

In similar discussions, two teen girls discuss the issue with their own mothers, with one even opening up about an inappropriate incident that happened to her at school. 

“I’m very proud of you. It’s okay to talk about these things,” her mother says.. 

“And that is the right thing to do, is to tell somebody right away. And you have to learn how to always speak up and don’t let anybody ever take advantage of you. This is never okay and it’s never your fault."

While the video may feature just three conversations, it highlights the need for children to be aware of the issues that happen around them and brings to light the importance of having an open line of communication between parent and child 

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“The young lads went overboard but this is what young lads do on occasion. They have suffered far too much.”

This was a comment written by Billy Keane, in the comment section of The Irish Independent, in the wake of the Ballyragget scandal.

In case you need a bit of refreshing on the Ballyragget case, a scandal erupted in the small Kilkenny village after some photos of the intermediate hurling team celebrating a club victory went viral.

There were strippers involved, and claims that one of them, Fifi, was paid for performing a sex act on a player.

But of course, instead of being thoroughly investigated for their viral (literally thousands of people saw the pictures and videos) misconduct, the men (not boys, not “young lads”, but grown-ass men) were given nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

This culture of ‘boys will boys’ and ‘it’s just a bit of craic’ is a cover for a much deeper misogyny that has reared its ugly head in Ireland recently. We’ve had enough, it’s time for Ireland’s #TimesUp moment.

If the trial of four rugby players, including Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, has shown us anything it’s that ‘lad culture’ is strong in sport- and that sport will stop at nothing to protect its own.

Let me preface this by saying that I have absolutely nothing against rugby or the GAA. Sport is a fantastic way of bringing families, communities and entire countries together. It is a treasured social outlet for many men and women. Professional and dedicated sportspeople deserve our highest respect, but that does not mean that they are above the law, despite their acquittal of all charges clearly stating otherwise. 

Male GAA and rugby stars command the same amount of notoriety and power, as film stars and Hollywood hotshots do in the United States. We’re a small nation, so to make it big, most of our actors and musicians head for the bright lights of the States or London. But one thing we refuse to export are sportspeople.

In rugby, our national team have taken on Goliaths like England, France and the All Blacks, and we’ve won. This is an immense source of Irish pride, and it’s hard not to feel something when our team is given the Six Nations or places in the World Cup.

Those men (and women, the ladies team deserve far more recognition than they get) are representing us, they are Ireland on the pitch.

So, what happens when one of our stars is accused of rape? The “lads only club” kicks in.

Lad culture and rugby are synonymous. Don’t believe me? Ross O’Carroll-Kelly created an entire series about it.

According to a report published by the National Union of Students in the UK, Lad Culture in universities is damaging and sexist. Lad Culture can be defined as a version of masculinity that promotes pack mentality, excessive drinking, multiple sexual partners and overtly homophobic, sexist and aggressive language in the form of “banter”.

While the study focuses on Lad Culture in universities, it does note the connection between sports and ‘laddisms’.

“‘Lad Culture’ was thought to be particularly influential in the social side of university life,” states the report.

“Extracurricular activities and sports in particular were singled out as key sites, and it was reported that sexism in such environments could spill over into sexual harassment and humiliation.”

This ‘banter’, while explicitly sexual and violent is usually dismissed as “just a bit of craic”. Speaking out about it or challenging offensive sexual speak leaves us to open to being called “dry”, “hysterical”, or even worse, “one of those man-hating feminists”.

Women, and men, uncomfortable with these laddisms are left to suffer in silence- or even become compliant and join in on the ‘banter’.

The ‘banter’ flying about the Whatsapp group the morning after the aforementioned alleged rape further proves this.

The morning after the acts took place, one of the rugby players posted a selfie of himself with three female party-goers, captioned “Love Belfast sluts.” 

Charming. 

A friend replied, “Boys, did you lads spit roast lasses? Legends!! … why are we all such legends?” to which the man responded: “I know. It’s ridiculous.” 

The conversation continued on a similar vein, with one message asking if the women were “Brassers”- Belfast slang for prostitutes.

“Two days after the alleged rape, at 11.28am,” writes The Irish Independent. “Mr McIlroy sent a message to a friend stating: ‘Pumped a bird with Jacko on Monday. Roasted her. Then another on Tuesday night.’”

To be honest, they sound more like they were describing a chicken dinner, than actual sex. 

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Rape jokes and other such lad culture tripe serve to dehumanise women, completely disregarding any kind of consent. She is no longer a woman, sister, daughter, friend. She is a “bird” waiting to be “pumped” and “roasted”.

The fact that that defence lawyer called these texts a "titillating sideshow", only proves the power of misogynistic power of "banter" over a woman's right to speak her truth. 

This is not just ‘banter’ between team mates, it’s symptomatic of a wider disregard for consent. In the words of Stuart Olding, “I didn't force myself on her. I presume she wanted it to happen. She didn't have to stay, she could have left.”

Okay, let’s break this one down.

They’re rugby players, it’s literally their job to be as physically strong as possible. By his own admission, Olding had consumed “eight cans of Carlsberg beer, four pints of Guinness, two gins, five vodka and lemonades and three shots of tequila and sambuca.” Combine an athletics physical strength with that amount of alcohol and even what might not seem to be any force for them could literally crush a normal person.

Now to, “I presume she wanted it to happen.”

No. Just, no.

He “presumed” she wanted to have sex with him, because why wouldn't she? They’ve constantly been told that they’re brilliant since they were tackling a teddy in their cribs. In Ireland, the recognition that sports receive is the equivalent to a Hollywood A-lister. Why wouldn't any woman want you? It goes with the territory. Wrong.

Couple this egotism with the laddist ignoring consensual conversations, any regard for the woman’s wishes in this situation has been ignored.

As the old saying goes, “If you assume, you make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me’.”

And apparently, none of this was enough to actually convict any of them. All four have walked free. 

It’s not funny, it’s not banter. It’s the last bastion of overt and accepted misogyny of our so-called “equal” society.

Like I said before, sport is not the only area where “lad culture” flourishes.

Sport doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the team bond and their visibility make them an excellent place for open conversation, debate and education. Just look at soccer's 'Give Respect, Get Respect' Campaign. Yeah, it didn't solve racism but at least it CALLED IT OUT.  

Take a look at the Times Up movement in the States, it’s only once we start an open and inclusive conversation can this be fixed. Dragging the problem kicking and screaming into the spotlight instead of writing it off as just another grey area.

The days of hushing sexual assault and harassment under the carpet embroidered “boys will be boys” are over. Let’s take what happened in Belfast as a beginning, a beginning of a brighter, healthier, more inclusive era for Ireland’s sports teams.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to talk about consent, not just women. It starts with a simple replacing of “It’s just a bit of craic” with “Lads, cut it out.” It starts with saying "I believe her". 

Just because they've walked away, doesn't mean that women are going to be silenced.  We owe it to her to speak up. We owe it to ourselves, our sisters, friends, co-workers to call time on this bullshit perception that men can get away with saying and doing whatever they want. 

We owe it to our daughters, to be able to tell them that we're the reason that they can go out and feel safe. 

We owe it to our sons, to teach them that real men respect women. 

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In October of last year, Skins actress, Kaya Scodelario, made the decision to contribute to the narrative surrounding sexual violence.

Invigorated and supported by the #MeToo campaign, the 25-year-old actress decided to come forward with her own story of sexual abuse, and bravely disclosed that she was a victim of sexual assault at the age of 12.

"It’s taken me 13 years to say #MeToo .He is still protected by ‘family members’ in Brazil. They’ve told lies to papers to try to silence me," she wrote.

 

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Explaining the impact the social movement had on her understanding of what happened to her as a child, Kaya told followers: "You’ve given me the courage. To finally speak out and not be afraid.To everyone still suffering silently, you never asked for it. NOBODY DOES."

The actress, who rose to fame for her role as Effy Stonem in Skins 2007, recently revisited her decision to come forward, telling Metro that while she appreciates the support and understanding, she doesn't want to be defined by that incident.

"The response was wonderful, it was a relief but I am still dealing with it, and I am now dealing with a new side of it, which is this.” she explained.

"I will be asked about it forever now. I hope it doesn’t define me but it will always be under my name and I accept that – but I am proud I was brave enough to do it and I am grateful for the support I had from friends."

 

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Kaya's decision to share her experience was done in an effort to support other young girls whose lives have been thrown into turmoil as a result of assault and abuse.

“I remember thinking that if I was 12-years-old and I had this horrific thing happen to me but I saw a woman I admired speaking up about it, it would have made me feel less guilty, and it would have inspired me to think ‘this won’t hold me back, this is something that has happened but I am not a victim."

Praising the movement which was born of the exposé on Harvey Weinstein, Kaya says it brought the topic to the public's conscience.

"It was taboo and it happened to someone we didn’t know, and #MeToo showed us it could happen to your friend, your sister, the women serving you food in a restaurant, it doesn’t just happen in movies.”

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Bella Thorne has opened up about her experience of childhood sexual abuse in a devastating Instagram post shared on Sunday.

The 20-year-old actress is speaking out in support of Time's Up, an anti-sexual misconduct movement created by a number of actresses and other powerful women in the entertainment industry.

In the post, Bella revealed how she had been sexually abused until the age of 14.

“I was sexually abused and physically growing up from the day I can remember till I was 14.” she wrote.

“When I finally had the courage to lock my door at night and sit by it. All damn night. Waiting for someone to take advantage of my life again.”

She went on to explain that although the abuse eventually stopped, there are other women who are not so lucky.

“Over and over I waited for it to stop and finally it did. But some of us aren't as lucky to get out alive. Please today stand up for every soul Mistreated. #timesup.”

 

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The revelation came just hours before dozens of Hollywood's most talented stars made a stand against sexual abuse and harassment by wearing all-black ensembles to the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony.

And while Bella did not attend the event, she and many other have heavily promoted the Time's Up initiative on social media over the past few days.

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A Daily Mail journalist has come under fire after she condemned the women who have spoken out about sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Speaking as part of a panel on Channel 4 News, Dame Ann Leslie said women who report incidents of inappropriate sexual behaviour “can’t have it both ways.”

Shockingly, the controversial comments came after Ann revealed that she had been asexually assaulted by the late politician, Nicholas Fairburn.

The journalist told how the former Tory MP, who died in 1995, placed his hand on her crotch during a joint appearance on an episode of BBC Radio 4's Any Questions.

“However, what I don’t like about what’s going on now is feminists have been trying all the time to say ‘oh my goodness, women must be in power, they must be strong, they will be strong’,” she said on the programme.

“They seem to spend their time now saying women are traumatised because some some silly old drunk in Parliament put his hand on her knee or anything like that. You can’t have it both ways.”

“You can't say women are strong and empowered and then say they're scared and they're going to cry and all that sort of thing.”

Her comments have been widely condemned by feminist groups across the UK with some accusing her of trivialising and dismissing the seriousness of these types of allegations.

Ann also made the ridiculous claims that women in the UK believe they “should scream and say ‘rape coming up’” if they are touched on the arm – to which fellow panellist, Guru-Murthy replied: “They don’t scream and say rape, they say stop treating me like a sexual object.”

Outraged viewers have taken to social media to stand up for the many women whose voices were belittled by the journalist's comments.

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Following yesterday's sentencing of Tom Humphries for grooming and sexually abusing an underage girl, details of a case involving a second victim have emerged.

The revelation comes after the leniency of the two-and-a-half year jail sentence handed to the former Irish Times journalist was met with “disgust” from investigating Gardaí and rape crisis charities.

The 54-year-old pleaded guilty to four counts of inviting a child to participate in a sexually explicit, obscene or indecent act between January 2010 and March 2011, as well as two counts of defilement of the child between December 5, 2010 and February 19, 2011.

The victim was just 16 years of age when the incidents took place.

The maximum sentence for this offence is life imprisonment, and many expected the convicted abuser to be jailed for at least 10 years.

It has now emerged that a second girl was allegedly attacked by Humphries on a number of occasions between March and June 2007.

According to The Irish Independent, senior Gardaí source say the nature of these offences bears a striking similarity to those for which the accused was sentenced for yesterday.

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Victims of sexual abuse have taken to Twitter today in a campaign that hopes to demonstrate the scale and severity of the issue at hand. 

It comes after allegations made against the famed producer, Harvey Weinstein, sent shock waves through the entertainment industry, prompting men and women all over the world to come forward and tell their stories. 

As the conversation around sexual abuse and harassment remains more open than ever, actress Alyssa Milano has created a platform for victims to come forward in a show of solidarity. 

Tweeting yesterday, the star asked any of her followers who had experienced sexual harassment or assault to tweet out two simple words – 'Me too'.

Responses came flooding in almost immediately, with big names such as Lady GaGa and Debra Messing showing support. 

Here are just some of the stories from brave victims who have spoken out today:

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Pope Francis' financial advisor is being charged in Australia with multiple accounts of "historical" sexual assault.

According to independent.ie, George Pell, Australia's most senior Catholic, is the highest ranking Vatican official to be charged.

George is just one member to be remanded in a long-running Catholic sexual abuse scandal.

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In Rome today, Cardinal Pell said of the accusations: "I am innocent of these charges, they are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

Victoria state police deputy commissioner, Shane Patton, said that there were multiple complaints against the cardinal, but he didn't expand on the allegations.

The child abuse is thought to have happened throughout the 1970s.

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According to a Vatican spokesman, Pope Francis has given his financial advisor a "leave of absence" in order to defend himself.

Cardinal Pell will return to Australian "as soon as possible" in order to prepare for his trial, which will take place on July 18.

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"Guys, a woman who’s dead drunk cannot consent. You are raping her.”

These were the words spoken by Joe Biden during a sexual assault awareness event at George Mason University, Virginia, on Wednesday.

The former US Vice President was speaking at the university for an event sponsored by It’s On Us, an organisation founded by Joe and Barack Obama to combat "the epidemic of sexual violence" on college campuses across the United States.

It’s On Us wants men to stand up and take an active approach in the prevention of sexual crimes on college campuses.

‘’I've been in a lot of locker rooms. I don't know where in locker rooms where it is acceptable to talk about, 'Man, I was out this weekend and boy, I got a piece of her, and I did this and I did that.'’’

‘’The guys who usually say that are usually the ugliest sons of bi— guns in the room,'' he added, to laughter and applause from the crowd. ''Here's the deal guys, you gotta speak up. You cannot let that kind of talk be bred on a college campus.’’

Joe also called out those men who don’t take action when they see a women who may be in trouble.

‘’When you see something, if you're a fraternity brother and you see a young freshman co-ed in the second week dead drunk, and him walking her up the stairs, you gotta go up to him and say, 'Hey, not in my house, Jack. Not in my house.'’’

‘’Because if you don't, you are an accomplice. You know what's about to happen. You know!’’

The former Vice President ended his powerful speech with a reminder for young men everywhere.

‘’I say to you guys, please, please act like men. Rape and sexual assault are not about sex, it’s about power. If you want to be a man, stand up, man’’

‘’And if you can't get her to say yes because she wants to, you ain't much.’’

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Pamela Anderson revealed over the weekend how she was sexually abused since the age of 6 detailing heartbreaking experiences.

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Fresh claims for the deceased popstar. What will Michael Jackson’s family make of it all?

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