Me too. You may have read or overheard these words quite often over the last week. It’s likely they’ve come across your Facebook or Twitter feeds, and very possibly that you’ve even posted or shared them on your own page as well. Like other social media “hashtags,” searchable, trackable terms that allow social media users to link together posts to stories, the #MeToo tag has become associated with shared stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and assault.
Tarana Burke, founder of the youth organization Just Be Inc., created the “Me Too” campaign in 2007 as a grass-roots movement to reach sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities. As a survivor of sexual violence, Burke felt the phrase “me too” was one that would resonate with survivors of abuse, specifically young women of color, and empower them to inspire change through the power of their stories of abuse.
On October 19, Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney used the #MeToo tag with a statement released via Twitter, when she disclosed the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Claiming not to be an expert, Maroney still struck a chord with many, transforming the #MeToo phenomenon into a much more action-oriented campaign, pursuant upon making a difference. She outlined four ways to spark a movement for change:
- Speaking out, and bringing awareness to the abuse that is happening
- People, Institutions, Organizations, especially those in positions of power, etc., need to be held accountable for their inappropriate actions and behavior
- Educate, and prevent, no matter the cost
- Have zero tolerance for abusers and those who protect them
The four points noted by Maroney seek public ownership of the need for awareness, education, accountability and intolerance of abuse within our society, and has lead to an even greater response to and support for the #MeToo movement.
Support for the initiative is shared locally by organizations such as The Child Advocacy Program (CAP), which was established in 2008 to end child abuse in Chautauqua County. At CAP, counselors and victims advocates too often hear the phrase “me too,” and see daily the abuse occurring in our local community. CAP seeks to hold perpetrators of abuse accountable for their actions and offers education and prevention training as well as support services for those affected by abuse in Chautauqua County.
CAP has been an active participant of the #MeToo campaign, sharing facts, support and stories from others, while adding the #MyCommunityToo in an effort to address community acceptance and ownership of the local impact abuse has on Chautauqua County.
To find out more about CAP’s services and programs, and to learn more about education, prevention, and support programs for those affected by abuse, visit capjustice.org, and use or search the hashtag #MyCommunityToo via social media.