Me Too was coined by civil rights activist and New York Native Tarana Burke in 2007 to raise awareness to sexual abuse and assault. But the movement expanded far beyond the five boroughs and landed smack dab in Hollywood in October 2017, after actress Alyssa Milano formed her own “ Me Too” movement against sexual allegations which spurred to Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct. Several actresses tweet “Me Too” and united to fight back against sexual misconduct in their work environment. All eyes were on Hollywood, the big shots in business, music and media, tech and even the USA Gymnastics team.
News headlines and breaking stories calling out sexual assaults in the entertainment industry dominated the media. But behind the cameras, in the alleys of urban neighborhoods, and on college campuses, sexual assault is happening too. And women are still quiet, still living in fear.
So much so that some women are even numb to it, and feel like they can’t connect to the movement.
Studies show that in the U.S, an alarming one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, and 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
Sexual assault happens for some women walking the two blocks from the train station to their homes. It happens on club nights, after someone offers to buy you a drink or two and wants to “help you home” since you lost your friends. It happens on college campuses, when the guy you’ve been crushing on invites you over for a movie night, but unwantingly thrust himself on you and mutters “you like that huh.” It happens to young girls, who are in their homes alone with a creepy “uncle.”
According to a Steindhardt NYU study, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latino communities are more likely to endorse rape myths like “she asked for it,” and hold negative attitudes towards the rape victim.
In addition, the study found that White Americans are more likely to uphold the stereotypes and rape myths if the victim was an ethnic minority.
Cultural mis-socialization influences the belief that ethnic women are promiscuous and acceptable of sexual advances. Women of color hide in the shadows of assault, due to simply feeling their voice doesn’t matter and preconceived notions of their sexuality will trump their truth.
So what do we tell them? What do we tell women who see the Me Too movement as something larger than life, and something only worthy of attention in Hollywood? How can women be safe and combat sexual assault and harassment in their everyday lives?
We want every woman to feel like her voice, her story matters. That’s why we’re listing some resources for assaulted victims in need of support.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
RAINN is the nation’s larges anti-sexual violence organization. They operate the National Sexual Assault Hotline in conjunction with over 1,000 local sexual assault service providers. Their hotline is available via phone, or an online chat hotline that provides support, information, advice or a referral from a trained support specialist.
They also have a local database that connects to your nearby sexual assault service centers.
Better Help is an online counseling center that connects you with licensed therapists in a matter of minutes. Just sign up and answer a few questions about how you’re feeling and what you need, and they’ll connect you to the right person. Plans/sessions can cost $35 a week, and financial aid resources are also available if needed.
Sexual assault victims often retreat to isolation and feel alone, but After Silence makes it a mission to build a supportive community. After Silence is an online support group, message board and chat room for sexual assault survivors.
End Rape on Campus
EROC works to end campus violence through education tools and policy reform at the campus, local, state and federal levels. On their website, you can learn in detail the laws against sexual assault and harassment. One of their initiatives, Centering the Margins” aims to put educate and support sexual assault claims in minority and marginalized student communities. Some of EROC’s direct assistance services include helping survivors file federal complaints, mentoring student activists and connecting survivors with mental health professionals.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center
NSVRC is a resource hub that educates and promotes dialogue on sexual assault and how it relates to oppression. Their library catalogue can connect you with timely resources on sexual assault and prevention in print, audiovisual and electronic format.
The Department of Defense Safe Helpline
This support helpline is a crisis support service for military members. Victims and survivors can discuss their trauma in confidentiality by phone, online messaging or an anonymous chat room. Users can also text their zip code or installation/base, and receive info to local resources.
As lonely as you may feel, and hard it may be to face the pain, understand that you are not alone and the resources to heal are available.