Instead of hiding what happened to them, sexual assault victims now share what they have experienced

Whenever I go on my social media accounts and I see many people posting about the same thing in my news feed, it is almost always about one person: Trump. On Oct. 16, when I went on Facebook, it was the first time I saw dozens of friends posting about something different, something called #MeToo.

I had no idea what it was at first, since it was just two words preceded by a hashtag. But then I saw an old friend who wrote: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

This article is not about me telling my story of “Me too.” I did not post it. I just sat in silence and watched as I found out more and more of what my friends had gone through without sharing it until now.

According to an article from CNN, the #MeToo movement started over 10 years ago, led by an activist named Tarana Burke. Burke was a director at a youth camp in 1996 when she had a child ask to talk to her privately. The child told her about how she had been abused by her stepfather, and Burke told her to talk to someone else about it. Burke did not have the courage to simply say “Me too.”

The first thing I felt when I saw all the #MeToo posts was pity. I felt bad for all my friends that had gone through sexual harassment and assault. But after thinking about it, I’m glad that they had the opportunity to express their story.

Junior English major Emily Benedetta chose not to participate in the #MeToo movement, even though she has been a victim of sexual harassment in the past.

“I have experienced numerous accounts of sexual assault, in all forms starting from the young age of two or three going all the way to now when I’m catcalled while walking from my apartment to class,” Benedetta said.

For a long time, people would have been told to keep something like that inside. This could lead to depression or anxiety. On top of that, a lot of people just may not have had the courage to admit it.

Therein lies the beauty of #MeToo.

“I’m a little torn on the #MeToo. In one way, I think it is a good way to bring awareness to the fact that sexual assault does occur, and it occurs more often than people think,” Benedetta said. “It’s also a good way to acknowledge the fact that sometimes we don’t consider things ‘sexual assault’ when we should. [#MeToo] allows girls to look into themselves and see what they have faced, come to terms with it and see that others are experiencing the same things, so they shouldn’t feel alone.”

It is hard to be the only one standing in a room of people sitting. When you see other people standing too, it is easier to stay on your feet. It makes you feel like you’re not alone, and other people are there to help you out when you need it. They can tell you their story and you can say, “Me too.”

“To someone who has experienced sexual assault, I would want them to know that they aren’t alone and that they shouldn’t have to deal with the aftermath of it alone,” Benedetta said. “I would also say that they shouldn’t feel ashamed of it, because nothing that they did contributed to them experiencing this. I would encourage them to reach out to someone that they are comfortable with to talk about things.”

Benedetta focused on one key aspect of the “Me too” movement—the awareness that it brings to this uncomfortable subject.

“I believe that too often girls think they are not victims, because they did something to provoke the words or actions, and that’s very much a societal issue. ‘No’ means ‘no,’ period,” Benedetta said. “I would say that we need to start educating females to know their worth, which is something that needs to be instilled from a very young age. Social media is a good way to start, but this problem is a long fight for women both online and in person.”