Like many, when the Weinstein verdict hit the news, I watched every minute of coverage available. I wrote about Weinstein in my book, so I’d watched over time as the number of victims went from 50 to 60, then 80, then 90. When the East Coast verdict came in (Weinstein still has to stand trial for charges in California), and he was found guilty, part of me was actually surprised. Up to that point, Weinstein seemed to be almost above the law, as do many men in power, and I feared that his legal team would once again create a slick enough argument to allow him to walk free. Instead, he was sentenced to 5 to 29 years. The mighty mogul had fallen.

It’s interesting to read about the individual stories from the women themselves, as it becomes clear that lust wasn’t the primary driving force behind Weinstein’s assaults — power and misogyny were. Weinstein used his position to threaten the women’s careers, even their lives. In account after account, he either promised the women stardom, or career destruction.

Lucia Evans was an aspiring actress in 2004 when Weinstein summoned her to his office for what she thought was a casting meeting. She reports that she was then forced to perform oral sex on Weinstein. Evans later told The New Yorker, “The type of control he exerted, it was very real.”

Emmy-nominated actress Annabella Sciorra alleged that Weinstein forced himself into her apartment in New York in 1992 and raped her. She told The New Yorker how ashamed she felt afterward, even though she had tried to fight him off. “Still I was like, why did I open that door?” she said. Clearly, even women in the spotlight can experience victim-blaming and shame, which is why the statements made by defense attorney Donna Rotuno are particularly disturbing … and thought-provoking.

In early February, Rotuno was interviewed by Megan Twohey of the New York Times. Twohey and fellow Times journalist Jody Kantor broke the Weinstein story in 2017, then went on to write their book, “She Said,” after winning the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism. Rotuno told Twohey that she herself “would never” be victim to sexual assault because she doesn’t ever let herself drink too much, or go into hotel rooms with questionable people. When Twohey remarked that many would say Rotuno’s statement was victim-blaming, Rotuno declared: “We’ve created a society where women don’t have to take responsibility for their actions.”

When I read that, I was appalled. What about the men?

You don’t get to 90 accounts over thirty odd years, dozens of legal settlements and victims living with trauma symptoms because the offender in question has “taken responsibility for their actions.” And one could easily argue that as long as men hold more power than women (which in this case, Weinstein clearly did) the point is moot. How can women ensure their own safety when men are most often physically stronger, and still hold more power in our culture? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the primary focus of assault prevention be the responsibility of men, since men represent the majority of offenders?

This is where Rotuno’s statement becomes not only horrifying, but thought-provoking. According to the laws of logic, the lion’s share of responsibility should rest squarely on the shoulders of those who have the capacity of abusing said power — physically or otherwise. While there are men who have been assaulted, drugged, harassed and abused (and men who have been falsely accused of these same transgressions), 90 percent of assault victims are female, and half of transgendered people (according to a recent survey) have experienced sexual violence.

Where does that leave women and nonbinary people? Do they bear a burden in keeping themselves safe? Or are they relegated to living with vague or acute apprehension, hoping that every romantic interaction or night on the town will be devoid of harm?

In our current social climate, it seems these groups — or anyone for that matter — no longer have the luxury of assuming their sexual safety is anyone else’s responsibility. In fact, I’d argue that sexual safety is one of the most important gender equality issues of our time. Another law of logic: empowered people are usually safe people.

As an author and educator, what I’ve enjoyed learning about and putting forth is the idea that sexual safety involves everyone and invites an opportunity to come together on an issue that is emotionally charged and illimitably complex. In other words, we need everyone at the table. Bashing men, blaming victims, or polarizing the sexes in an already polarized culture will not solve the problem. Sexual assault prevention is the world’s responsibility, but more than anything else, it’s a personal one.

So, what are some ways that young men, women and LGBTQ community members can ensure safe outcomes while still enjoying the fun and freedom of independence?

The following section is adapted from chapter six of “Be Strong, Be Wise in the Age of #MeToo,” titled “Know Thyself”:

We don’t usually think about tools (other than mace or pepper spray) when we think about sexual safety, but some of our most important tools aren’t carried in a purse or backpack. They exist inside us and can make a big difference in a moment of risk. Some of these tools are part of our personality and we don’t have to work for them at all. Others don’t exactly come naturally. The good news is that humans are adaptable creatures, and our brains have the capacity to learn new information and acquire new skills almost magically; it just takes a little focus and determination.

Here are some of the most important internal tools we carry:

• Common sense, or street smarts

• Gut instinct, or intuitive response

• Affect manipulation, or looking tough though you may not feel tough

• People perception, or the ability to accurately assess others

Communication, or the ability to share feelings/reactions

Gut instinct (or intuition) is a tool that’s so important, it’s worth checking in with several times a day. Even a simple self-to-self question — How is my gut responding to the situation I’m in? — goes a long way in developing personal intuition. Since our cognitive “muscles” work much like our physical muscles, the more we use them, the stronger they become. This is especially true with gut instinct. Once the practice of checking in with our intuitive responses is more consistent, we can use our gut instinct to improve our people perception, and let that inform our affect manipulation. Most important: we can communicate with the people in our life exactly what our gut instinct is trying to say. In this way, we improve personal awareness so much, being safety-minded becomes second nature.

Here are some helpful questions for all readers, that are especially important for young adults under the age of 23:

1. How often have I been in a situation where someone rubbed me the wrong way, but I didn’t say anything about it to anyone?

2. Would I describe myself as having good common sense? If not, what are some specific areas of development I can work on?

3. Have I ever tried to look tough even when I felt scared? Did making myself look tough actually help me feel tougher?

4. How often do I tell my friends when I have a gut instinct reaction to something?

5. Do I trust my gut instinct or intuition? If not, what do I need to do to work that response mechanism so I can use it if I’m in an unsafe situation?

Becoming an observer of people and places helps build common sense. If you don’t think yours is very strong yet, that just means you haven’t had a chance to develop it. Be patient and start to play out certain scenarios with your group of friends or with yourself. What would each of you do if you were on a date and your date started giving you the creeps? What would you all do if someone was invading your space at a frat party? What happens when you try looking tough in a new situation or when you’re walking down an unfamiliar street? And above all else, how connected do you feel to your intuition? This is the most important safety tool you can use when meeting new people.

Weinstein’s fall has given new hope, but the details of the case show the challenges we have in discussing sexual safety. Increased self-awareness helps each of us meet those challenges with more internal wisdom and strength, because when our inner tools are intact, so is our ability to experience fun and freedom to the fullest degree.