For centuries, survivors of sexual assault weren’t able to speak out. The people in power in the dominant culture shamed victims of these violent acts into silence and, perversely, even blamed them.
Today, women and other disenfranchised groups have gained access to stronger human, financial and political rights and are speaking out. Over the past century, women acquired an array of legally binding equal rights. Women having such legally acknowledged rights as voting, property and credit rights shifted the balance of power in society. The stigma of higher education for women was also slowly lifted. The first female Supreme Court judge, Sandra Day O’Connor, was appointed in 1984. Currently, women hold influential positions in corporations and in politics. This shift in the balance of power gives women a larger voice and influenced society’s attitudes about sexual assault. But even today, many are afraid to speak out. Only 19% of the 535 seats of the US Congress are held by women, while the women comprise 50.8% of the US population.