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When a Hollywood icon commits a sexual act of misconduct, the buzz term “sex addiction” comes quickly to the surface. Due to the use of sex addiction to explain the sexually lewd and irresponsible behaviors of individuals, many criticize its legitimacy or its causality. Though the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not list sex addiction as a disorder, many professionals are able to recognize the signs when someone’s compulsive sexual behavior has damaged their life. In the case of Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer and proclaimed “mogul”, his over 30 year history of sexually assaulting women, as well as reportedly men, suddenly brought his life to a dramatic halt. He lost contracts. He lost his job at a company with his namesake and he lost his wife. More than 30 women spoke out about experiencing harassment of some kind from Harvey in a practice loosely referred to as “the casting couch”. From “abuse of power” to “sex addiction” the variety of terms used to describe Weinstein’s behavior are all applicable. What the villainizing media hesitates to focus on is the presence of a mental illness, a disorder of the mind, body, and spirit which may be the result of trauma. As Judy Crane, author of The Trauma Heart: Stories of Survival, Hope & Healing puts it, people with trauma are not bad people trying to be good, but wounded people trying to heal.

A perspective of compassion is not one of condoning. Taking the perspective that Weinstein is a man with deeply psychological issues is not a forgiving behavior, making light of the unacceptable and damaging behaviors. Instead, this perspective opens up the struggles of humanity and the effects of trauma. This perspective points out that there may be something very real, very harmful, and very damaging that needs to be treated. It would be equally stigmatizing to say to a perpetrator that they should just “get over it”, whatever it is that may have happened to them, as it would be to tell victims who speak out to “get over it” as well.

Speaking up is the most important thing that can happen in times like these. The many men and women speaking up in the mainstream news and on social media around the world are incredibly brave. Keeping secrets about rape and sexual assault is further harm done to the person who experiences these traumas. Not having anywhere to turn to or anyone to talk to sends the pain of the trauma internal, having an effect on other people. There is power in talking about these challenging and controversial topics.