Weinstein conviction could give hope to sexual assault victims n - FOX34 Lubbock

Weinstein conviction could give hope to sexual assault victims nationwide

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Former Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault against two women Monday in Manhattan, New York City, in what is being hailed as a landmark #MeToo moment.

Leslie Timmons, community educator of Voice of Hope - Rape Crisis Center, said we all need to say "thank you" to the victims who came forward against Weinstein.

"It is really a measure of justice for all victims of sexual abuse," Timmons said "It really shows that victims are being heard, and that influential men are being held accountable."

Steven Garcia, coordinator of community education outreach of Women's Protective Services, said he hopes this high-profile conviction will help give more victims a voice, but there is a downside.

"This only works if that first brave courageous one is believed," Garcia said. "A lot of the times, if they're not believed because of someone's stature, their power, their influence, that kind of stuff, it might even discourage future victims from coming forward."

Some progress has been made over the years, Garcia said, with the #MeToo Movement highlighting sexual assault, and better training among law enforcement and prosecutors. However, he said society must do a better job of believing women when they come forward,

"The fact remains, it's still so difficult, shameful. There's still a lot more to be done with regards to awareness. We still like to victim blame," Garcia said.

Voice of Hope assisted 456 victims of sexual abuse last year. Timmons said it remains an underreported crime.

"We're hoping that because of these movements, because of these platforms, and because of these brave victims coming forward that it will be less of a stigma to come forward to tell your story and to get help," Timmons said.

Voice of Hope helps victims of sex trafficking and sexual assault. For more information on its resources, click here.

Women's Protective Services is aimed at ending family violence. To learn more about its services, click here.

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