“This is a victory”: sexual-assault survivors react to the Weinstein verdict

He may have been convicted of two crimes, but it isn’t really enough.

by Danielle Campoamor 

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VIA ISTOCK

On Monday, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual activity in the first degree. But he was also acquitted on the most serious accusations levied against him—predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape, both of which could have landed him in prison for life. He now faces anywhere from 5 to 25 years behind bars.

Related: #MeToo Leaders Receive a Disobedience Award From MIT for Speaking Truth to Power

The verdict comes at the end of a five-day jury deliberation and after two of Weinstein’s 80 accusers, Jessica Mann and Mimi Haley, took the stand to testify against the disgraced Hollywood mogul. Their testimonies were submitted as evidence, which makes this conviction monumental in so many ways: Survivors’ stories and the trauma they faced was valued enough to convince a jury to come back with a guilty verdict.

But because of the two not guilty calls, survivors of sexual assault have complicated reactions to the news. I am a rape survivor, one who endured a five-hour rape kit, waited more than a year to hear that my district attorney didn’t believe there was enough evidence to convict, and knows my abuser will never see the inside of a court room. Because of this, I feel as much solace as I do anger. “Justice” feels inadequate in this case, just as it does in most sexual-violence cases. Less than 1% of rapes will end in a felony conviction, as reported by the Washington Post.

Weinstein’s conviction is a step in the right direction, yes, but it also leaves victims feeling every emotion imaginable, from gratitude to anger, relief to surprise. Here, six survivors share their reactions.

Related: #MeToo Leaves Women in LGBTQIA+ Relationships Behind

Victims were not believed today, but this is nothing new

“Weinstein’s verdict is complex for me. As a multiple assault survivor who is currently navigating the criminal legal system, it’s not black and white. Yes, in some ways you could say justice was served today. However, he was acquitted on the top two charges. There is no silver lining in my mind. This isn’t a case of ‘you win some, you lose some.’ Victims were not believed today, but this is nothing new. This verdict is a message to survivors that we once again need to contort our stories and trauma to fit into a box to be believed. That 12 people, a jury, can determine our path toward justice.” —Alison Turkos, 31, New York, NY

This is a victory for survivors

“I feel two ways about it. One: This is a victory for survivors. We live in a country where 5.4 out of 1,000 rapes result in incarceration for a perpetrator. The jury believed these women, and testimony was presented as evidence. At the same time, what we expect from survivors needs to change. These women suffered for speaking truth. The defense treated them horribly. I worry that survivors will still be mistreated for speaking up, but at least now there’s the possibility that speaking up won’t be for nothing.” —Leah Griffin, 34, Seattle, WA

Hopefully, the fact he was convicted of rape helps more women to come forward

“As a sexual assault and abusive relationship survivor, I found the #MeToo movement and the increased awareness of sexual assault to be a pivotal moment in my life. Only after the Weinstein revelations was I able to speak publicly about what happened to me, finally stop hiding, and start healing. It’s sad to see that he was cleared of many serious charges, but hopefully, the fact he was convicted of rape helps more women come forward.” —Carolina A., 27, London, England

I didn’t expect the jury to believe the women

“I was raped the first weekend of my freshman year of college by a popular lacrosse player. I never reported it. I told my teammates, but they didn’t believe me—blamed me instead. That was almost 20 years (and a lot of therapy) ago. My 10-year-old son is going to start playing lacrosse this week and I hate it.

“I didn’t expect Harvey Weinstein to be convicted. I didn’t expect the jury to believe the women. Seeing that headline was amazing. I’m really proud of those women for testifying. It must have been terrifying.” —Kate R., 35, London County, CT

When powerful men are brought to justice, it shows the masses that even the most well-connected people must be held accountable

“As a victim of sexual assault, the news of a guilty verdict for Harvey Weinstein was a huge relief. After seeing so many individuals in positions of power and prestige continuously getting away with sexual crimes against others, finally seeing someone brought to justice for their actions was inspiring.

“After my assault, I wanted to report it. I wanted him to be accountable for his actions. But I didn’t see any point in it, as the outcome is typically a long exhaustive process that re-traumatizes the victim, and justice is rarely ever achieved. The news of Weinstein’s conviction stirred in me feelings of hope for all survivors of assault and the hope that would-be rapists and sexual aggressors will no longer feel safe behaving in this way because punitive action is being enforced more frequently. When powerful men are brought to justice, it shows the masses that even the most well-connected people must be held accountable. This is a big day for his victims, and those who have been victimized at the hands of others. We are finally moving in the right direction.” —Nicole H., 39, Wenatchee, WA

His conviction gives me hope that someday women will be believed as a standard practice

“Honestly, I’m shocked. Society has told us time and time again that men (especially wealthy men) are more believable than women. So having such a high-profile case end in the rapist being convicted feels unreal. His conviction gives me hope that someday women will be believed as a standard practice. Imagine that, a woman being believed…That’s a world I want to live in.” —Rebecca A., 31, Seattle WA

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