Yes, You Can Still Love Someone Who Commits Sexual Assault, Says National Sexual Violence Resource Center

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Television host Charlie Rose was respected by many, leaving them confused and hurt by his alleged sexual misconduct. Reuters

A male politician or celebrity is trending on Twitter. You hover your mouse over his name, but should you even bother to click? You just know it's one of two things, and neither option is good. Finally, you dive in with bated breath, wondering, "Did he sexually assault someone, or is he dead?"

Friends discuss who they think will be next to be hit with sexual misconduct allegations, who they've heard has a reputation for being a creep. When the scandal erupts, co-workers tell you they just knew it: "I mean, look at that fedora."

Perhaps we should be used to it by now, but each time a widely admired politician or notable figure is accused of sexual misconduct, it feels like a punch in the gut.

"I'm really struggling because what do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible?" Gayle King asked the nation on Tuesday morning. "How do you wrap your brain around that?" King was responding to the allegations that her CBS This Morning co-host, Charlie Rose, had sexually harassed or assaulted eight young women who worked for him.

How do you wrap your brain around it? Are you allowed to forgive a man who abused his power in such a horrendous manner? Can you still admire his policies? Watch his movies?

"It sucks, some of our heroes will be taken down, and we will discover bad things about people we like or in some cases, people we love," the comedian Sarah Silverman said of the recent cultural shift around sexual assault. "I love Louis. But Louis did these things," she said of her longtime friend Louis C.K., who was accused of sexual misconduct by five women. "I just keep asking myself, Can you love someone who did bad things?"

It's OK to tell someone that you're embarrassed, hurt and angered by his actions, but that you still love him, said Kristen Houser, spokesperson for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

"Our country wants to completely condemn people or give them our blessing, we have this all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to sexual abuse," she told Newsweek. "We have to take a moment to reflect on our knee-jerk tendency to want to categorize an entire person's worth based on some of their behavior."

Zero tolerance is not the answer, and it actually stops victims of sexual assault from coming forward, according to Houser. A victim may not want the abuser to lose his job or his friendships—she may just want him to acknowledge and end his behavior.

Of course there are varying levels of assault, and sustained, patterned abuse should be treated more severely than a one-time, small infraction.

There is a path to redemption for some of these men, but the burden lies on their shoulders. Houser said going to sex rehab doesn't redeem Harvey Weinstein, for example, because "plenty of sex addicts have consensual relationships." But seeking and receiving appropriate counseling, truly apologizing and working to end the culture that allows sexual assault to occur in the first place could put these men on the right path.

Yes, You Can Still Love Someone Who Commits Sexual Assault, Says National Sexual Violence Resource Center | U.S.