High profile sexual harassment cases highlight reality for local victims

SAN ANTONIO – The list of high profile men accused of sexual harassment is getting the attention of victims across the nation.

In early November, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization rainn.org reported a 21 percent increase in calls to the center since the allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein first came out.

The San Antonio Rape Crisis Center says the scandals highlight the reality for victims in our own community.

Carmen Vasquez Clinical Director at the center says it starts by believing the victims and not judging them.

“The reality is very sad, women understand sexual violence is part of their lives, determining what's abuse will be determined by the person that's experiencing it,” Vasquez said.

Deciding to come forward is not easy -- it takes courage, but high profile cases have pushed many to step up.

“A lot of people sometimes feel they have a voice by seeing other survivors come out with their stories,” Vasquez said. “We always encourage people to report but we understand it's a personal decision to make.”

Vasquez said it is often a person in power who takes advantage of the person who fears their job is on the line if they speak up. She urges victims to find a trusted person in the workplace of human resource office that knows what the policies are, it’s best to have a face to face conversation.

There are state and federal laws that protect people from retaliation or a loss of job for speaking up.

A victim who feels their complaint is ignored can call the Rape Crisis Center or the local office of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for help on what to do next.

The list of names in the national spotlight includes politicians, journalists and people in the entertainment industry.

The New York Times reports there have been 34 high profile men who have been accused since October.  

Vasquez says she hopes to see those accused suffer consequences for their actions. She hopes this begins a wave of change in society.

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