How did #MeToo begin? Taranka Burke, American Social Activist and Community Organizer, started utilizing the “Me Too” phrase in 2006 on Myspace to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who had been sexually abused. In 2017, when sexual violence accusations were being made against filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, Alyssa Milano, an actress and survivor, started utilizing #MeToo to bring awareness and attention to sexual assault and harassment. Milano had an experience when she was younger and wanted to expose the magnitude and depth of this issue. People started using the #MeToo to identify themselves as survivors and make it known that sexual violence is pandemic in our nation.
#MeToo has opened doors for thousands of rape survivors to reach out for much-needed help. Some survivors have kept their trauma a secret for years, some were able to reach out and get help immediately. It is not uncommon for a survivor to not report sexual assault or harassment due to the fear of not being believed, feeling shame, who can they trust, and possible retaliation from the perpetrator. With the #MeToo campaign, more survivors recognize that they are not alone, that this was not their fault and that there is support to help them to start healing, report the crime and reintegrate into society – healthier, stronger and fearless.
Project Help has been serving survivors of Sexual Violence since 1986, and with the #MeToo campaign going viral, we have seen an upswing in survivors reaching out for assistance. Along with our existing advocacy, counseling, support groups, we have implemented a therapy program in 2017 where a survivor of sexual violence can receive the necessary trauma therapy at no cost as to not cause further victimization and delay in receiving these vital services.
Project HELP has embraced #MeToo within our social media campaigns, and welcomes survivors to our center to start their healing process, navigate the judicial system, provide a safe and confidential place to work through their trauma. We are also following all of the newer hashtag movements that are bringing awareness to those who might not identify under the #MeToo. #StartbyBelieving, #WhyIDidNotReport, #HimToo, are just a few of the hashtags that have started in the past few years and have broken the silence and taken away the shame from survivors.