Sexual violence activist feeling ‘hopeful’ after wave sexual misconduct accusations

Juliette Grimmett (CBS North Carolina)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As people have come forward in the last couple months to accuse numerous high-profile men of sexual misconduct, a Raleigh woman who survived sexual assault says she’s “feeling hopeful that there’s momentum going.”

Juliette Grimmett, founder of the Chrysalis Network, trains people at colleges and businesses on how to respond to sexual violence and helps survivors as well.

“As many of us that can come forward and continue the stories, continue to share our experiences, it’s always going to have an impact,” she said. “This isn’t just a couple people. This is everyday we’re waking up and we’re getting a new text alert.”

On Wednesday, Time magazine revealed its person of the year as the “Silence Breakers,” people who have come forward to report cases of sexual harassment or assault.

“When you have high-profile folks that are comfortable coming forward, there’s a difference because the experiences aren’t changing,” said Grimmett. “There’s some accountability factors or actual outrage about what’s happening. People are getting fired.”

Grimmett said 22 years ago a man raped her when she was a freshman at Skidmore College in New York. At the time, she said she reported it to school administrators but did not go to police. By the time she was prepared to do that, she said the statute of limitations had run out.

In the years since that happened, New York has eliminated the statute of limitations in first-degree rape cases. Now, Grimmett said she’s preparing in the next few weeks to contact police in New York to try to pursue criminal charges.

“But for me, really my hesitation was more about not knowing what to do and what that looked like because I think it was silenced,” she said.

As cases of sexual harassment and assault dominate the headlines, Grimmett said she’s heard from many people who now feel emboldened to report what’s happened to them. She said she hopes what’s happened in these numerous high-profile cases has a broader effect on cases that won’t garner similar national attention.

“The regular business person who’s being assaulted by their boss or co-worker, is that really going to be valued just as much?” Grimmett asked.

The Chrysalis Network will hold a conference next Monday and Tuesday at NC State on campus sexual assault and dating violence. For more information, click here.

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