clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why this elbow is a Time Person of the Year

The “Silence Breakers” are outliers. Most assault goes unreported.

Time magazine named "the Silence Breakers" its Person of the Year for 2017. These are the women and men who shared their stories of assault, harassment, and hostility and publicly named their alleged abusers. But the story goes beyond the magazine’s cover.

That elbow in the lower right-hand corner is attached to a young hospital worker from Texas, who anonymously reported her harassment for fear of the negative impact it could have on her and her family. It represents a much larger contingent than the women on the cover: the silence keepers.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are both underreported. A government study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that about 70 percent of harassment is never reported. The same report aggregated a study that found when people did report harassment, about 75 percent of faced some sort of retaliation for doing so.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) studied the underlying reasons people don’t report, and, unsurprisingly, the above statistics are connected. According to RAINN, the No. 1 reason people don’t report their abuse and harassment is because they’re afraid of the repercussions.

Time has made it a point to recognize the courage of the “Silence Breakers,” but it’s important to remember why their actions were brave: because there are far more people remaining silent, who feel that they don’t have the option of speaking up.

To learn more about why women and men do not report harassment and assault, watch the video above and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.