Is social media helping or hurting victims of sexual assault?

Is social media helping or hurting victims of sexual assault?

If you have opened up TikTok on your phone in the last three weeks, it is highly probable that you have seen an influencer being accused of or accusing another of an act of sexual assault.  Jack Wright has officially accused Sienna Mae of sexual assault after a video surfaced of her touching him inappropriately when he was not conscious at a party in Hawaii.

When allegations such as this rise amongst celebrities, fans are always interested to hear each perspective. However, are influencers obligated to share their stories if they do not feel comfortable? Is it beneficial to the influencer to do so? Does public opinion skew facts?

From the end of 2020 to the beginning of 2021, Jack Wright and Sienna Mae were America’s sweethearts. The two combined for the biggest ship during the time period, #Jienna. Jack and Sienna’s relationship was purely publicized through social media, primarily TikTok. To everyone, they appeared to be in love. The two were practically inseparable. But once May of 2021 rolled around, everything changed.

In May of 2021, Jack Wright and Sienna Mae, along with some of their friends, went on a trip to Hawaii. Their group of friends were all gathered at a house having a small party. On this occasion, there is a video of Sienna Mae, allegedly, sexually assaulting Jack Wright on a couch while he was unconscious.

When this video was spread, within minutes, social media had exploded. It was practically impossible for anybody to open their phones to a social media platform and not see this video.

This resulted in several of Jack Wright’s friends expressing their opinions on the internet and revealing their perspective on what the #Jienna relationship really like and how it contrasted the portrayal to the public.

The first tweet came from TikToker, Mason Rizzo and it said, “I struggle with seeing a girl getting praised after telling my best friend to kill himself and sexually assaulting him numerous times. You guys all deserve to know the truth about her.”

In just under one week, Sienna Mae Gomez lost 600,00 followers. That soon escalated to 100,000 followers in the present day.

The first time these allegations were addressed by either Jack or Sienna was on June 1st, 2021. At the time Sienna Mae Gomez was 17 years old. She uploaded a video to her YouTube channel addressing the situation.

Gomez said, “I unequivocally deny the allegations that I sexually assaulted Jack Wright. I am not making an apology video. I didn’t want to bring this online, but this has got to a point where my name is being dragged in the mud and I am going to stand up for myself and tell the truth.”

On this same day Jack Wright made a statement on Instagram saying, “While I love sharing my life with all of you, some parts are deeply personal and I have been hesitant to share for my own emotional and mental wellbeing… sexual assault is a serious matter that has real consequences…I truly encourage my childhood friend, Sienna to get the support and help that she needs. I don’t want to tear anyone down and only wish for healing for everyone involved.”

Sienna Mae was soon dropped from her brand deals and all of the support went towards Jack Wright.

“I think it should not be taken directly to social media. I think it becomes heavily influenced by the fans on the social media platforms” said senior Madison Wahler.

Friends of Jack Wright were non-stop talking about the situation that they saw in Hawaii on social media which led to Sienna Gomez issuing cease – and – desist letters to Jack Wright’s friends on June 4.

In Gomez’s video, she said, “ I stand with what I said in the last video, I did not sexually assault Jack Wright. Jack was a victim of sexual assault, but not by me. I am a victim of the continuous attempts to cancel me and slander my name with false claims. Now you have been served with cease – and – desist letters by my attorneys. I’m being accused of an actual crime.”

Then, with no warning, everything went black online. There were no more statements or comments. What can be assumed is that both sides decided to take it offline and handle things privately since the law became involved.

Now, we are brought to the present time period. Just when we thought everything was sorted out and the two could officially part ways, it came right back.

On January 11, 2022 Jack Wright posted a cryptic TikTok that appeared to be directly targeted at Gomez. The TikTok was just simply of his face with text that read, “Can’t stay quiet anymore especially when other guys in LA told me what she did to them as well. I’m done being gaslighted and silenced. Y’all deserve to know. Please give me a little more time but please know I’ve had love and support through all of this from family, friends, and all you online.”

On January 20, 2022 Jack Wright uploaded a YouTube video titled “what sienna mae did to me”. It has received 20,605,009 views and 1.4 million likes.

In the video, Jack Wright spoke about several occasions where he has felt uncomfortable and sexually pressured by Sienna Mae Gomez. This contained explanations of Sienna Mae allegedly touching and kissing Jack Wright without his consent. He also confirmed he was unconscious in the orginal video of Sienna Mae’s sexual assault. Gomez was also accused of breaking into Wright’s house on multiple occasions.

He stated, “When I was sound asleep she would come to my room and I’d wake up to her hand in my pants.”

Wright also confirmed the two were never in an official relationship together. Then, on January 22, 2022, a representative for Sienna Mae Gomez denied the allegations from Jack Wright’s video.

The representative stated that Wright was, “reframing history and making statements that were harmful and true.”

According to the source there has been no charges, private lawsuits, or contact between Sienna and Jack or their respective legal teams in months. It was said that, “His latest falsehoods in the highly edited video show that once again Jack is making a calculated action to hinder, hurt, and harm not only Sienna’s reputation and livelihood, but her as an individual human being as well.”

The entire situation has caused Sienna Mae Gomez to receive several death threats and negative comments that she had to block anyone from having the ability to comment on her posts anymore.

Gomez also released a written statement giving a timeline of the two’s entire relationship and explaining herself for what Wright told the media she did to him.

So, the big question that has come from all of this is, was it handled correctly? Should it have been handled privately from the start and are the perspectives and opinions morphed based on the opinions of others due to social media? Was the situation just too public?

The reality is, the public was not a personal part of the relationship, none of the viewers were present to judge what actually happened.  Therefore, the public will never know all the personal details of their relationship.  Clearly, one is being untruthful because Wright claims she assaulted him and Gomez denies it.

When the public as a majority supports a certain side of a celebrity scandal, the other side tends to face backlash that is arguably unnecessary. Personally, judging from the videos released and the stories from Wright’s friends, it appears that Gomez did sexually assault Wright several times.  Wright is fortunate to have fans who support him; however, he does not benefit from those fans involving themselves and sending Gomez death threats and degrading messages. This inflates the situation, does not help either side, leads to no resolution, and skews facts.

Most of social media is biased.  Ironically, that is where the majority of individuals get their news from. Millions of viewers posting their biased opinions online which they formed from watching youtube videos instead of actually being involved could be mistaken for straight facts which could continue to skew more opinions of the viewers who see these announcements.

Overall, feeling the obligation, as an influencer, to post videos about what goes on in their personal life should not be a reality for them.  In a situation so personal, having millions of people knowing and attempting to involve themselves makes things worse for most influencers because they, just as anyone else, have the right to deal with personal issues personally.  Just because they come up on our FYP does not mean that we are all entitled to know everything that goes on in their lives.