Happy ‘Anniversary’ #MeToo

Happy ‘Anniversary’ #MeToo

Did you know the #metoo movement began back in 2006? Neither did I. Longtime civil rights activist Tarana Burke launched the movement over a decade ago to raise awareness about sexual harassment and abuse. It was meant to focus on the survivors, the victims…not the accused. About this time last year #metoo was one of the most used hashtags, blowing up the internet overnight after the Harvey Weinstein story broke. Do you remember the name of the first woman to come forward? Maybe you do, but I don’t and that’s part of the problem.

I do remember reading the many posts supporting #metoo on my own personal Facebook account. I was shocked at how many ‘friends’ posted stories, or even just #metoo. I wondered if they understood or if they were just showing support.

As viral campaigns go, this one was and still is a big deal. It got millions of people (12 million on Facebook alone, overnight!) talking about sexual violence and the aftermath of it.  It got people having those tough conversations. It allowed survivors to have a platform and a voice.

So what does that all mean? If we talk about it, it will stop happening?  Probably not, but maybe being more vigilant with our safety, and knowing what is not okay, we can reduce the numbers… and they are big. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men are affected by sexual violence in their lifetime. Chances are pretty good you or someone you know well have been affected.

Here are some good tips on what you CAN do to help prevent sexual assault.

  1. Know what sexual violence is and what is NOT ok.
  2. “Bystander intervention” – stepping in when you think someone is acting inappropriately can give someone a chance to change the outcome.
  3. Give a friend a ride home when they have had too much to drink.
  4. Interrupt a rape joke and explain why it’s not funny.
  5. Get security involved or call the police.

If you happen to be one of the many #metoo survivors, know you are not alone. Need to talk? You can call 905.682.4584 anytime. The Niagara Sexual Assault Centre is one of the agencies in Niagara dedicated to you. They have a full array of services to help you. United Way Niagara is proud to fund programming which helps victims of sexual abuse to overcome this traumatic life event(s), to move on and live their lives.

After all, #metoo wasn’t created for Hollywood. It was created for you, the survivor.