Coordinated Community Response: #MeToo, Two Years On

by Alexis Bauer

It’s been two years since #MeToo went viral, but its origin has a deeper history. Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement, was struck with the idea in 1997 when she heard the story of a young girl who had been sexually abused. Struggling with where to go next, in 2007, Burke created Just Be, a nonprofit designed to provide resources to victims of sexual abuse. This began a movement aimed at creating a readily available outlet that had not previously been there. It was aimed at providing resources for survivors of sexual assault in underprivileged communities. This began the Me Too movement.

In 2017, social media erupted with actress Alyssa Milano’s #MeToo post. Amid the multitude of people coming forward to share their stories, many women of color took to social media to shine light on Burke’s efforts, which had been going on long before the media coverage. This firestorm came just days after the allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein were reported. 

Me Too was never meant to be a viral hashtag, but rather, a support system to show survivors that they are not alone. Burke’s experience of hearing the story of that young girl is still with her today. The moment when a young child becomes vulnerable while trying to share her or his story for the first time – and having that vulnerability forced close again – sparked Burke’s passion in creating Just Be. She could do nothing more in that moment than think, “Me, too.” 

Two years after the initial social-media flood, many prominent figures are facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Actors have been written out of shows, and singers are experiencing music boycotts amid allegations coming to light.  States are also introducing more legal protections for workers, and large corporations and government entities have reevaluated their reporting policies. In June, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted new standards for how agencies should address workplace harassment, and countries that agree to be a part of this organization will be subject to periodic checks by the ILO. 

The biggest influence of Me Too has been the decrease in stigma about reporting. RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) has seen a significant increase in calls since the movement gained speed in 2017. There have also been many groups pushing to make feminism more intersectional in an attempt to decrease the stigma surrounding reports by people of color.

The Door County Sexual Assault Center (SAC) provided services to 74 individuals in 2018. During the first six months of this year, SAC had already met with 67 people. There is no evidence to prove that the Me Too movement has inspired survivors in our community to come forward, but the way we talk about sexual assault has changed, which has a significant impact on how a person heals after experiencing something as traumatic as sexual assault.

If you or anyone you know would like to speak with an advocate from the Door County Sexual Assault Center, call its 24/7 hotline at 920.746.8996.

This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.

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