#MeToo Sparks Movement To Bring Awareness to Sexual Assault

By Sofia Gerli, Staff Writer

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Trending worldwide since October is the hashtag #MeToo, a social media movement in which women and men are sharing their stories about sexual harassment and assault.

When the Harvey Weinstein scandal became public, Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano tweeted asking women to share their experiences with sexual harassment and to speak up about what they have gone through.  

This sparked the beginning of millions of people retweeting the hashtag and adding it to their status on social media in an attempt to bring a stop to the apathetic attitudes around sexual harassment and assault and to emphasize the weight of the issue.

“I thought it was really inspiring because women, a lot of the times, don’t feel comfortable coming forward about these issues,” Dos Pueblos junior Caitlyn Anderson said. “It’s really a great thing to see because now women feel more comfortable and these experiences are coming out and they are able to get the justice that they deserve for the wrongdoing that happened to them.”

The hashtag was used by more than 4.7 million people in the first 24 hours and has become a rallying cry against sexual assault.

Many believe that the subject of sexual assault has been long neglected in society, often due to the victims feeling embarrassed and powerless, but this movement has sparked awareness and refocused attention to the issue, comforting and empowering those affected.

Sophia Boccali is a junior here at DP and the movement helped her find her voice and aided in her recovery.

“I was definitely the type of person to keep it in and pretend like it didn’t happen,” Junior Sophia Boccali said. “Then you start hearing and seeing the #metoo movement for example and you just realize that if others can get through it, you can too; it’s empowering, it gives you a sign of reassurance.”

Boccali and many others felt silenced by the mixture of emotions.

“I felt ashamed, I was convinced that it was my fault at first,” Boccali said. “Looking at it, it wasn’t. Now I have no reason to be afraid, even though it is scary sometimes, I hope that people know that when it happens it’s not your fault, it’s the sick and twisted person that did it, not yours.”

The personal obstacles that victims have to overcome are challenges that do not have to be faced alone. This was the purpose behind the movement, to create an environment where one could share their story.

“I think that talking to people that you’re close with about it can really help,” Anderson said. “If you’re scared just know that there are people that want to help and that care immensely about you and your health.”

DP has its own set of resources to help students that are struggling with problems such as sexual assault. Stella Sacks is a Youth Service Specialist on campus who also provides crisis counseling, alongside the new school therapist Gwen Nelson-Terri.

“It’s such a painful thing to hold within yourself and be the only person that’s aware of what’s happened,” Sacks said. “Talking to someone that they trust can be really helpful and it’s what I’ve tried to provide.”

Sacks is here on campus to assure students that there are plenty of resources to aid victims of sexual assault who are suffering.

“If teachers refer students to me that are dealing with sexual harassment my hope would be to get them connected to a resource like the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center,” Sacks said. “They have advocates come out to the school, meet with the student and get them connected with support groups.”

The #MeToo movement has inspired individuals to share their stories, ultimately unifying those struggling with the same issue, so that people affected can continue to heal in a safe and strong community.


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