Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The topic of sexual assault has become prominent in the 2016 presidential race to the dismay of many Americans. But advocates for victims of sexual violence see a silver lining: An issue often kept in the shadows is now in the spotlight.
Laura Palumbo, a spokesperson from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told ABC News that the prominent media coverage of women’s accusations of sexual assault by Republican nominee Donald Trump has helped bring the topic of sexual violence into the public dialogue.
“Sometimes there have to be moments that help change perception of things like this,” Palumbo said.
Trump has vehemently denied the claims of sexual assault and blames the media for giving his accusers a platform.
His campaign has also sought to highlight claims of sexual assault against former President Bill Clinton, the husband of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton has strongly denied the accusations against him.
Aside from any question about the veracity of the allegations, the attention given to the issue is sparking everyday conversations on questions such as: What is sexual assault? Does unwanted kissing amount to sexual violence? Why would a woman wait years before coming forward with an accusation?
Sexual violence is defined as any unwanted sexual contact, according to the national resource center’s website.
Palumbo said that people’s understanding of what constitutes sexual violence has evolved over the years, and that the public seems to be growing more sympathetic toward victims.
“Increasingly, we’ve seen the public respond in a positive way” to the issue, she said. “High-profile moments like these are critical for survivors” of sexual violence.
Nearly one in two women and one in five men have been victims of sexual violence other than rape, according to a 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost one in five women and one in 71 men have been raped, the CDC found.
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